a bit of phylogeny

Subject: a bit of phylogeny
From: (John Leonard)
Date: Fri, 22 Jan 1999 09:55:21 +1100 (EST)
I've recently been looking at Sibley and Monroe's classification of birds,
and whilst I'm still trying to get my head around their classification of
the non-passerines, it seems that their classification of the passerines
(leaving out the sub-oscines) is quite easy to grasp.

They divide the oscine passerines into two big groups the Corvida and the
Passerida, the former, in their view had an Australian origin, the latter
orignated somewhere else.

Each of these Parvorders is divided into three:

Corvida is divided into:

1. Menuroidea?Lyrebirds and Scrubbirds, Australian Treecreepers and
Bowerbirds (most people who take up S & M's classification reject this last
group and place them in the Corvoidea (qv) (where have traditionally been
2.Meliphagoidea?Fairywrens and Grasswrens, Honeyeaters and Chats, and
Pardalotes, Thornbills, Gerygones, Scrubwrens &c;
3. Corvoidea?Australian Robins, Fairybluebirds, Logrunners, Australian
Babblers, Shrikes, Vireos, Crows and Allies (a huge group, including
Shrike-thrushes, Fantails, Monarch Flycatchers, Butcherbirds,
Birds-of-Paradise, Currawongs, Orioles,Bush-shrikes, Cuckoo-shrikes &c), and
New Zealand Wattlebirds.

Passerida is divided into:

1. Muscapapoidea?Dippers, Thrushes (ie Bassian Thrush), Old World
Flycatchers, Starlings
2. Sylvioidea?Northern Hemisphere Wrens, Tits, Swallows, Bulbuls, Old World
Warblers, Cisticolas, White-eyes, Old World Babblers
3. Passeroidea?Larks, Flowerpeckers, Sunbirds, Sparrows, OW Warblers,
Pipits, Australian Finches, Manakins, OW Finches, Buntings, American
Warblers, Orioles, Balckbirds &c

So all you have to do when thinking of a passerine is ask yourself 'IS this

1. A lyrebird
2. A Fairywren
3. A crow-ally
4. A Thrush
5. A Warbler
6. A Finch

And you'll be right!

John Leonard


John Leonard (Dr),
PO Box 243,
Woden, ACT 2606,

"Intensely anthropogenic landscapes require
vigilant maintenance." J.R. McNeill

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