Sylvioidea III


The 42 Orders

Babblers and allies

One innovation of the TiF checklist is to separate the laughingthrushes and related babblers into a separate family. It is one of the four main babbler clades Cibois (2003). The tree diagram in Cibois (2003) could be consistent with 1, 2, or 3 more families. I choose option 3. It makes sense to me to treat each one at family level. One is the new Sylviidae. There is a clade containing the laughingthrushes (Garrulacidae>. There is also a major clade containing Timalia (the Timaliidae), and what looks like a minor clade with a couple of Yuhina and Zosterops. In truth, that minor clade isn't minor at all. It represents well over a hundred species, the Zosteropidae.

Many of the old Sylviidae are grouped together in the new Timaliidae. However, Sylvia itself, together with a few of the old Sylviidae, some babblers, and a cisticola (Rhopophilus) are left to carry on the name Sylviidae. Although greatly reduced, it's still a respectable family containing over 60 species.

Sylviidae: Old World Warblers, Parrotbills, Fulvettas

11 genera, 63 species

The genus Parisoma has been merged into Sylvia. The Lioparus and Fulvetta fulvettas had previously been in the genus Alcippe (Timaliidae). The order below relies on Cibois (2003) and Pasquet et al. (2006), in both of which the Sylviidae are clade 2. Pasquet et al. recommend the use of Lioparus and Fulvetta, and Collar and Robson (2007) helped clarify the limits of those genera.

Zosteropidae: White-eyes

19 genera, 117 species

The Yuhinas and at least 3 species of Stachyris, all of which are closely related to Zosterops, are transferred to the Zosteropidae. Neither Stachyris nor Yuhina appear to be monophyletic, so expect some adjustment of these genera.

Some species are already sporting revised genus names, these include Staphida (formerly Yuhina), Dasycrotapha, Sterrhoptilus, and Zosterornis (all formerly Stachyris, the remainder of which is in the Timaliidae). Cibois et al. (2002), Cibois (2003), Zhang et al. (2007), Collar and Robson (2007) were the key papers for sorting this out.


34 genera, 125 species

The remaining Sylviidae and Timaliidae are divided between the new, smaller Timaliidae and the laughingthrush clade, Garrulacidae. The portion of Alcippe that remains here has been split into 3 genera: Alcippe, Pseudominla, Schoeniparus (see Pasquet et al., 2006 and Collar and Robson, 2007).

Again, generic limits follow Collar and Robson (2007). Thus Jabouilleia joins Rimator, Elachura is separated from Spelaeornis, Stachyridopsis from Stachyris, Ophrydornis from Malacopteron, and Robsonius, Turdinus, and Gypsophila from Napothera.

Garrulacidae: Laughingthrushes

27 genera, 129 species

The final piece of the babbler-warbler clade is Garrulacidae, the laughingthrush family. Half of its species have sometimes been considered members of Garrulax. The generic limits follow Collar and Robson (2007), meaning that Dryonastes, Melanocichla, Rhinocichla, Pterorhinus, Grammatoptila, Stactocichla, Leucodioptron, Strophocincla, Ianthocincla, and Trochalopteron are considered separate genera, instead of all being Garrulax.

Although the Abyssinian Catbird, Parophasma galinieri is included here, there is suspicion that it might belong elsewhere.

Incertae Sedis

Incertae Sedis: Somewhere in Passerida

4 genera, 4 species

“Incertae sedis” is a fancy term meaning we don't have a clue what to do with these. These genera are thought to belong to the Passerida somewhere, but their true affinities are currently unknown. Myzornis, Malia, and Horizorhinus have often been considered babblers.