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The typical warblers are small insectivorous birds belonging to the genera Sylvia and Parisoma of the "Old World warbler" (more properly: sylviid warbler) family Sylviidae. There are about 20 species in the genus Sylvia, but their probable closest living relatives, Parisoma might actually belong herein too; the relationship to the African Hillbabbler (Pseudoalcippe abyssinica) and the White-browed Chinese Warbler (Rhopophilus pekinensis) are not entirely resolved but certainly more distant. Typical warblers occur in the temperate and subtropical regions of western Eurasia and adjacent Africa, centered around the Mediterraneanmarker.

Many of the Sylvia species show sexual dimorphism, with distinctive male and female plumages. A common feature is that males of some species have black on the heads, replaced by brown, gray or similar dusky colors in females. Species breeding in temperate regions are usually strongly migratory, although some are resident. These are active, constantly moving, warblers usually associated with fairly open woodland, hedges or shrubs.


The typical warblers are now known to form one major lineage in a clade containing also the parrotbills and some taxa formerly considered true Old World babblersAlström, Per; Ericson, Per G.P.; Olsson, Urban & Sundberg, Per (2006): Phylogeny and classification of the avian superfamily Sylvioidea. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 38(2): 381–397. Cibois, Alice (2003): Mitochondrial DNA Phylogeny of Babblers (Timaliidae). Auk 120(1): 1-20. DOI: 10.1642/0004-8038(2003)120[0035:MDPOBT]2.0.CO;2 HTML fulltext without images. The other "Old World warblers" have been moved to their own families, entirely redelimiting the Sylviidae. Because of their distinctness, the Sylvia-Parisoma group might be considered a subfamily Sylviinae, but it must be noted that several "Old World warblers" are pending restudy with the new data in mind.

As denoted above, the genus Sylvia as presently defined is not monophyletic. The Sylvia-Parisoma group apparently contains one distinct major lineage and several superspecies.

Temperate Eurasian superspecies ("atricapilla-borin group")

Parisoma superspecies

curruca clade

communis-melanocephala assemblage

The relationships between the last group and the other species are not well resolvedHelbig, A. J. (2001): "The characteristics of the genus: Phylogeny and biogeography of the genus Sylvia." In Shirihai, Hadoram: Sylvia warblers: 24–28. Princeton University Press, Princeton, N.J.. ISBN 0691088330Jønsson, Knud A. & Fjeldså, Jon (2006): A phylogenetic supertree of oscine passerine birds (Aves: Passeri). Zool. Scripta 35(2): 149–186. (HTML abstract).


  1. Del Hoyo, J.; Elliot, A. & Christie D. (editors). (2006). Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 11: Old World Flycatchers to Old World Warblers. Lynx Edicions. ISBN 849655306X.

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