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I Dream Africa

I Dream Africa



The family Sylviidae is a group of small insectivorous passerine birds. The Sylviidae mainly occur as breeding species, as the common name implies, in Europe, Asia and, to a lesser extent Africa. Most are of generally undistinguished appearance, but many have distinctive songs. There are 291 species worldwide and 25 species which occur in Namibia.

A passerine is a bird of the order Passeriformes, which includes more than half of all bird species. Sometimes known as perching birds or, less accurately, as songbirds, the passerines form one of the most diverse terrestrial vertebrate orders: with over 5,000 identified species, it has roughly twice as many species as the largest of the mammal orders, the Rodentia. It contains over 110 families, the second most of any order of vertebrates (after the Perciformes).

The names "passerines" and "Passeriformes" are derived from Passer domesticus, the scientific name of the type species—the House Sparrow—and ultimately from the Latin term passer for Passer sparrows and similar small birds.

The foot of a passerine has three toes directed forward and one toe directed backwards, called anisodactyl arrangement. This arrangement enables the passerine birds to perch upon vertical surfaces, such as trees and cliffs. The toes have no webbing or joining, but in some cotingas the second and third toes are united at their basal third. The hind toe joins the leg at the same level as the front toes. In other orders of birds the toe arrangement is different. The leg muscle of passerine birds contains a special adaption for perching. It will automatically tighten and become stiff, if the bird starts to lose hold of the branch on which it is perching. This enables passerine to sleep while perching without falling off. This is especially useful for passerine birds that develop nocturnal lifestyles.

Most passerine birds develop twelve tail feathers, though the Superb Lyrebird has sixteen. Certain species of passerines have stiff tail feathers, which help the birds balance themselves when perching upon vertical surfaces.

The chicks of passerines are altricial; blind, featherless, and helpless when hatched from their eggs. This requires that the chicks receive a lot of parental care. Most passerines lay coloured eggs, in contrast with non-passerines, most of whose eggs are white except in some ground-nesting groups such as Charadriiformes and nightjars, where camouflage is necessary, and some parasitic cuckoos, which match the passerine host's egg.

The evolutionary history of the passerine families and the relationships among them remained rather mysterious until the late 20th century. In many cases, passerine families were grouped together on the basis of morphological similarities which, it is now believed, are the result of convergent evolution, not a close genetic relationship. For example, the "wrens" of the northern hemisphere, those of Australia, and those of New Zealand look very similar and behave in similar ways, and yet belong to three far-flung branches of the passerine family tree; they are as unrelated as it is possible to be while remaining Passeriformes.

  • African Bush-Warbler Bradypterus baboecala
  • Eurasian River Warbler Locustella fluviatilis
  • Sedge Warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus
  • Eurasian Reed-Warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus
  • African Reed-Warbler Acrocephalus baeticatus
  • Marsh Warbler Acrocephalus palustris
  • Great Reed-Warbler Acrocephalus arundinaceus
  • Greater Swamp-Warbler Acrocephalus rufescens
  • Lesser Swamp-Warbler Acrocephalus gracilirostris
  • Olive-tree Warbler Hippolais olivetorum
  • Icterine Warbler Hippolais icterina
  • African Yellow Warbler Chloropeta natalensis
  • Yellow-bellied Eremomela Eremomela icteropygialis
  • Greencap Eremomela Eremomela scotops
  • Yellow-rumped Eremomela Eremomela gregalis
  • Burnt-neck Eremomela Eremomela usticollis
  • Red-capped Crombec Sylvietta ruficapilla
  • Cape Crombec Sylvietta rufescens
  • Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus
  • Wood Warbler Phylloscopus sibilatrix
  • Garden Warbler Sylvia borin
  • Greater Whitethroat Sylvia communis
  • Barred Warbler Sylvia nisoria
  • Layard's Warbler Parisoma layardi
  • Rufous-vented Warbler Parisoma subcaeruleum
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