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Artamidae

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Artamidae
File:Lowland Peltops - Nagada Mission.png
Lowland Peltops aka Tinkling Shieldbill
Scientific classification
Unrecognized taxon (fix): Artamidae

The family Artamidae gathers together 20 species of mostly crow-like birds native to Australasia and nearby areas.

There are two subfamilies: Artaminae, the woodswallows, are sombre-coloured, soft-plumaged birds that have a brush-tipped tongue but seldom use it for gathering nectar. Instead, they catch insects on the wing. They are agile flyers with large, pointed wings and are among the very few passerine birds that soar. One sedentary species aside, they are nomads, following the best conditions for flying insects, and often roosting in large flocks. The nests of woodswallows are loosely constructed from fine twigs, and both parents help rear the young.[1]

Historically, the cracticines – (currawongs, Australian Magpie and butcherbirds – were seen as a separate family Cracticidae. With their 1985 DNA study, Sibley and Ahlquist recognised the close relationship between the woodswallows and the butcherbirds in 1985, and placed them in a Cracticini clade,[2] now the family Artamidae.[3] The two species of peltops were once placed with the monarch flycatchers but are now placed here.[4]

The cracticines have large, straight bills and mostly black, white or grey plumage. All are omnivorous to some degree: the butcherbirds mostly eat meat, Australian Magpies usually forage through short grass looking for worms and other small creatures, currawongs are true omnivores, taking fruit, grain, meat, insects, eggs and nestlings. The female constructs bulky nests from sticks, and both parents help incubate the eggs and raise the young thereafter.[1]

The cracticines, despite their fairly plain, utilitarian appearance, are highly intelligent and have extraordinarily beautiful songs of great subtlety. Particularly noteworthy are the Pied Butcherbird, the Pied Currawong and the Australian Magpie.

Species of Artamidae[edit]


A fossil right scapula (MNZ S41061) found at the Manuherikia River in Otago, New Zealand and dating from the Early to Middle Miocene (Awamoan to Lillburnian, 19-16 million years ago) represents a member of the Cracticinae.[5]

Formerly in Artamidae[edit]

References[edit]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Howley, Ian (1991). Forshaw, Joseph, ed. Encyclopaedia of Animals: Birds. London: Merehurst Press. pp. 226–227. ISBN 1-85391-186-0. 
  2. Sibley CG, Ahlquist JE (1985). "The phylogeny and classification of Australo-Papuan passerine birds" (PDF). Emu. 85 (1): 1–14. doi:10.1071/MU9850001. Retrieved 2009-04-15. 
  3. Christidis L, Boles WE (2008). Systematics and Taxonomy of Australian Birds. Canberra: CSIRO Publishing. p. 196. ISBN 9780643065116. 
  4. Sibley, CG; JE Ahlquist (1984). "The relationships of the Papuan genus Peltops". Emu. 84 (3): 181–183. doi:10.1071/MU9840181.  Cite uses deprecated parameter |coauthors= (help)
  5. Worthy, Trevor H.; Tennyson, A.J.D.; Jones, C.; McNamara, J.A. & Douglas, B.J. (2007): Miocene waterfowl and other birds from central Otago, New Zealand. J. Syst. Palaeontol. 5(1): 1–39. doi:10.1017/S1477201906001957

External links[edit]


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