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Birds Guide



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Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Pardalotidae

The large and diverse passerine bird family Pardalotidae includes the pardalotes, scrubwrens, thornbills, gerygones and allies. The family originated in Australasia and now includes about 70 species in 15 or 16 genera. Nearly all are confined to Australia (48 species) or New Guinea (about 20 species, including 6 found in both Australia and New Guinea). Only the gerygones extend further afield, with representatives in South-east Asia, New Zealand, and islands of the South Pacific.

All members are small to medium in size—some are very small—the majority are drab, inconspicuous, and often difficult to identify. All are mainly insectivorous, have 10 primaries (the tenth is vestigial in the pardalotes) and 9 secondaries (most having a vestigal tenth secondary).

One species, the Lord Howe Gerygone Gerygone insularis, is extinct; and 25 taxa in 17 species are considered endangered, three of them critically so. The primary threats are land clearing, overgrazing, degradation and fragmentation of habitat, and changing fire regimes.

The taxonomy of the Pardalotidae is complex and its classification has changed a great deal over the years. Recent microbiological work has made it clear that it is part of the Australasian corvid lineage, and it is most closely related to the honeyeaters and the fairy-wrens, all three families being regarded as part of the superfamily Meliphagoidea. (The Pardalotidae form the second-largest family of birds in Australasia, after the honeyeaters.)

At various times the Pardalotidae have been classified as Old World warblers, Old World babblers, and Old World flycatchers. The pardalotes themselves have been placed alone in their own family and grouped with the flowerpeckers. DNA studies suggest that the pardalotes may diverge sufficienty from the others in the group to justify regarding them as a separate family, in which case the remaining genera would be placed in the family Acanthizidae.

Species of Pardalotidae (part of the super-family Meliphagoidea)

  • Subfamily Pardalotinae: pardalotes
    • Spotted Pardalote, Pardalotus punctatus
      Forty-spotted Pardalote, Pardalotus quadragintus
      Red-browed Pardalote, Pardalotus rubricatus
      Striated Pardalote, Pardalotus striatus
  • Subfamily Dasyornithinae
    • Eastern Bristlebird, Dasyornis brachypterus
      Rufous Bristlebird, Dasyornis broadbenti
      Western Bristlebird, Dasyornis longirostris
      Pilotbird, Pcynoptilus floccosus
  • Subfamily Acanthizinae
    • Rockwarbler, Origma solitaria
      Fernwren, Oreoscopus gutturalis
      Yellow-throated Scrubwren, Sericornis citreogularis
      White-browed Scrubwren, Sericornis frontalis
      Tasmanian Scrubwren, Sericornis humilis
      Atherton Scrubwren, Sericornis keri
      Large-billed Scrubwren, Sericornis magnirostris
      Tropical Scrubwren, Sericornis beccarii
      Scrubtit, Acanthornis magnus
      Chestnut-rumped Heathwren, Hylacola pyrrhopygia
      Shy Heathwren or Shy Hylacola, Hylacola cauta
      Striated Fieldwren, Calamanthus fuliginosus
      Rufous Fieldwren, Calamanthus campestris
      Redthroat, Pyrrholaemus brunneus
      Speckled Warbler, Chthonicola sagittata
      Weebill, Smicrornis brevirostris
      Brown Gerygone, Gerygone mouki
      Grey Warbler, Gerygone igata
      Chatham Island Warbler, Gerygone albofrontata
      Norfolk Island Gerygone, Gerygone modesta
      Dusky Gerygone, Gerygone tenebrosa
      Mangrove Gerygone, Gerygone levigaster
      Western Gerygone, Gerygone fusca
      Lord Howe Gerygone, Gerygone insularis Conservation status: Extinct (c.1930)
      Large-billed Gerygone, Gerygone magnirostris
      Green-backed Gerygone, Gerygone chloronotus
      Fairy Gerygone, Gerygone palpebrosa
      White-throated Gerygone, Gerygone olivacea
      Mountain Thornbill, Acanthiza katherina
      Brown Thornbill, Acanthiza pusilla
      Inland Thornbill, Acanthiza apicalis
      Tasmanian Thornbill, Acanthiza ewingii
      Chestnut-rumped Thornbill, Acanthiza uropygialis
      Slaty-backed Thornbill, Acanthiza robustirostris
      Western Thornbill, Acanthiza inornata
      Buff-rumped Thornbill, Acanthiza reguloides
      Slender-billed Thornbill, Acanthiza iredalei
      Yellow-rumped Thornbill, Acanthiza chrysorrhoa
      Yellow Thornbill, Acanthiza nana
      Striated Thornbill, Acanthiza lineata
      Southern Whiteface, Aphelocephala leucopsis
      Chestnut-breasted Whiteface, Aphelocephala pectoralis
      Banded Whiteface, Aphelocephala nigricincta

Further reading

  • PJ Higgins & JM Peter (Eds.), Handbook of Australian, New Zealand & Antarctic Birds, Volume 6: Pardalotes to shrike-thrushes. Oxford, Melbourne, 2002: ISBN 0-19-553762-9

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