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Common Names in Different Families, Full List

In the March/April 2014 issue of Birding is an article I wrote discussing the many common bird names like “flycatcher” and “shrike” that are used in multiple taxonomically distinct families. As I compiled the list, it became clear the entire list was way too long to publish in the magazine. At least 53 different common names are used in more than one distinct taxonomic family, an astonishing total. Below is the list in its entirety.

What do you make of it? Which names do you find the most absurdly or confusingly reapplied? Which common names appear in more families than you expected, and which appear in less? Can you find anything missing? I’m sure there are mistakes, so let’s work on it together.

Warblers

  1. Speckled Warbler, Rockwarbler, Mouse-Warblers—Acanthizidae
  2. Tit-Warblers—Aegithalidae
  3. Victorin’s Warbler, Moustached Grass-Warbler—Macrosphenidae
  4. Warblers, Bush-Warblers—Cettiidae
  5. Warblers, Wood-Warblers, Leaf-Warblers, Woodland-Warblers—Phylloscopidae
  6. Warblers, Brush-Warblers, Reed-Warblers, Yellow-Warblers—Acrocephalidae
  7. Warblers, Bush-Warblers, Swamp-Warblers, Little Rush-Warbler, Cinnamon Bracken-Warblers, Grasshopper-Warblers—Locustellidae
  8. Warblers—Bernieridae
  9. Warblers, Wren-Warblers, Rufous-Warblers—Cisticolidae
  10. Warblers—Sylviidae
  11. Olive Warbler—Peucedramidae
  12. Warblers—Parulidae
  13. Warbler-Finches—Thraupidae

Northern Parula with sig1

Wrens

  1. Bush Wren, South Island Wren—Acanthisittidae
  2. Antwrens—Thamnophilidae
  3. Spotted Bamboowren—Rhinocryptidae
  4. Bay-capped Wren-Spinetail—Furnariidae
  5. Fairywrens, Emuwrens, Grasswrens—Maluridae
  6. Fernwren, Scrubwrens, Fieldwrens, Heathwrens—Acanthizidae
  7. Wrens, Wood-Wrens—Troglodytidae
  8. Gnatwrens—Polioptilidae
  9. Wren-Warblers—Cisticolidae
  10. Wrentit—Sylviidae
  11. Wren-Babblers—Pellorneidae
  12. Wren-Babblers—Timaliidae
  13. Wrenthrush—Parulidae

House Wren with sig1

Tits

  1. Tit-Spinetails—Furnariidae
  2. Tit-Tyrants—Tyrannidae
  3. Scrubtit—Acanthizidae
  4. Tit Berrypecker—Paramythiidae
  5. Crested Shrike-tit—Pachycephalidae
  6. Tomtit—Petroicidae
  7. Tits, Titmice, White-winged Black-Tit—Paridae
  8. Penduline-Tits, Tit-hylia—Remizidae
  9. Tits, Tit-Warblers, Bushtit—Aegithalidae
  10. Wrentit—Sylviidae
  11. Tit-Babblers—Timaliidae
  12. Tit-Flycatchers—Muscicapidae

Flycatchers

  1. Tyrant Flycatchers—Tyrannidae
  2. Shrike-Flycatchers—Platysteiridae
  3. Ward’s Flycatcher—Vangidae
  4. Flycatcher-shrikes—Campephagidae
  5. Flycatchers, Paradise-Flycatchers, Crested-Flycatchers—Monarchidae
  6. Flycatchers—Petroicidae
  7. Fairy Flycatcher, Blue-Flycatchers, Crested-Flycatchers, Canary-Flycatchers—Stenostiridae
  8. Flycatchers—Cettiidae
  9. Flycatchers, Slaty-Flycatchers, Black-Flycatchers, Forest-Flycatchers, Tit-Flycatchers—Muscicapidae
  10. Flycatcher-Thrushes—Turdidae
  11. Silky-flycatchers—Ptilogonatidae

Babblers

  1. Babblers—Pomatostomidae
  2. Jewel-babblers—Cinclosomatidae
  3. Crossley’s Babbler—Vangidae
  4. Shrike-Babblers—Vireonidae
  5. Malaysian Rail-babbler—Eupetidae
  6. Babblers—Sylviidae
  7. Babblers, Striped-Babblers—Zosteropidae
  8. Babblers, Wren-Babblers, Scimitar-Babblers—Pellorneidae
  9. Babblers—Leiothrichidae
  10. Babblers, Tit-Babblers—Timaliidae

Shrikes

  1. Antshrikes—Thamnophilidae
  2. Shrike-Tyrants—Tyrannidae
  3. White-tailed Shrike, Shrike-Flycatchers—Platysteiridae
  4. Helmetshrikes, Woodshrikes—Prionopidae
  5. Bushshrikes—Malaconotidae
  6. Cuckoo-Shrikes, Flycatcher-Shrikes—Campephagidae
  7. Shrike-Thrushes, Crested Shrike-tit—Pachycephalidae
  8. Shrikes, Magpie Shrike—Laniidae
  9. Shrike-Vireos, Peppershrikes, Shrike-Babblers—Vireonidae
  10. Shrike-Tanagers—Thraupidae

Thrushes

  1. Antthrushes—Formicariidae
  2. Quail-Thrushes—Cinclosomatidae
  3. Shrike-Thrushes—Pachycephalidae
  4. Dohrn’s Thrush-Babbler—Sylviidae
  5. Thrush Babbler—Pellorneidae
  6. Laughingthrushes—Leiothrichidae
  7. Thrush Nightingale, Palm-Thrushes, Spotted Morning-Thrush, Whistling-Thrush, Rock-Thrush—Muscicapidae
  8. Thrushes, Ground-Thrushes, Ant-Thrushes, Flycatcher-Thrushes, Nightingale-Thrushes—Turdidae
  9. Waterthrushes, Wrenthrush—Parulidae
  10. Rosy Thrush-Tanager—Thraupidae

Magpies

  1. Magpie Goose—Anatidae
  2. Australasian Magpie—Cracticidae
  3. Magpie Shrike—Laniidae
  4. Magpie-lark—Monarchidae
  5. Magpies, Magpie-Jays—Corvidae
  6. Magpie-Robins—Muscicapidae
  7. Magpie Starling—Sturnidae
  8. Magpie Tanager—Thraupidae
  9. Magpie Mannikin—Estrildidae

Chats

  1. Chat-Tyrants—Tyrannidae
  2. Chats—Meliphagidae
  3. Woodchat Shrike—Laniidae
  4. Chats, Chat Flycatcher, Robin-Chats, Angola Cave-Chat, Anteater-Chats, Bushchats, Whinchat, Stonechats—Muscicapidae
  5. Palmchat—Dulidae
  6. Yellow-breasted Chat—Parulidae
  7. Chat-Tanagers—Thraupidae
  8. Chats—Cardinalidae

Finches

  1. Przevalski’s Rosefinch—Urocynchramidae
  2. Finches, Sierra-Finches, Warbling-Finches, Yellow-Finches, Seed-Finches, Bullfinches, Warbler-Finches, Tree-Finches, Ground-Finches, Cactus-Finches—Thraupidae
  3. Finches, Brush-Finches, Tanager Finch—Emberizidae
  4. Finches, Chaffinch, Mountain-finches, Rosy-finches, Greenfinches, Rosefinches, Goldfinches—Fringillidae
  5. Snowfinches, Pale Rockfinch—Passeridae
  6. Finches, Negrofinches (now Nigritas), Firefinches, Locustfinch, Quailfinches, Parrotfinches—Estrildidae
  7. Quailfinch Indigobird—Viduidae

Quails

  1. Quails, Wood-Quails—Odontophoridae
  2. Quails, Bush-Quails—Phasianidae
  3. Buttonquails, Quail-plover—Turnicidae
  4. Quail-Doves—Columbidae
  5. Quail-thrushes—Cinclosomatidae
  6. Quailfinch—Estrildidae
  7. Quailfinch Indigobird—Viduidae

Cardinals

  1. Cardinal Woodpecker—Picidae
  2. Cardinal Lory—Psittacidae
  3. Cardinal Myzomela—Meliphagidae
  4. Cardinals—Thraupidae
  5. Cardinals—Cardinalidae
  6. Cardinal Quelea—Ploceidae

Creepers

  1. Earthcreepers, Woodcreepers, Groundcreepers, Point-tailed Palmcreeper, Sharp-tailed Streamcreeper—Furnariidae
  2. Treecreepers—Climacteridae
  3. Wallcreeper—Tichodromidae
  4. Treecreepers, Creepers—Certhiidae
  5. Honeycreepers—Thraupidae
  6. Hawaii Creeper—Fringillidae

Orioles

  1. Oriole Cuckooshrike—Campephagidae
  2. Oriole Whistler—Pachycephalidae
  3. Orioles—Oriolidae
  4. Oriole Warbler—Cisticolidae
  5. Orioles, Oriole Blackbird—Icteridae
  6. Oriole Finch—Fringillidae

Cuckoos

  1. Cuckoo-Hawks—Accipitridae
  2. Cuckoo-Doves—Columbidae
  3. Cuckoos, Hawk-Cuckoos, Bronze-Cuckoos, Ground-Cuckoos, Drongo-Cuckoos, Bronze-Cuckoos, Lizard-Cuckoos—Cuculidae
  4. Cuckoo-Roller—Leptosomidae
  5. Cuckooshrikes—Campephagida

Larks

  1. Magpie-lark, Torrent-lark—Monarchidae
  2. Larks, Bushlarks, Hoopoe-Larks, Skylarks—Alaudidae
  3. Songlarks—Locustellidae
  4. Lark Sparrow, Lark Bunting—Emberizidae
  5. Meadowlarks—Icteridae

Nightingales

  1. Nightingale Wren—Troglodytidae
  2. Nightingale Reed-Warbler—Acrocephalidae
  3. Thrush Nightingale, Common Nightingale—Muscicapidae
  4. Nightingale-Thrushes—Turdidae
  5. Nightingale Finch—Thraupidae

Plovers

  1. Plovers, Golden-Plovers, Sandplovers, Diademed Sandpiper-Plover—Charadriidae
  2. Magellanic Plover—Pluvianellidae
  3. Crab Plover—Dromadidae
  4. Quail-plover—Turnicidae
  5. Egyptian Plover—Glareolidae

Sparrows

  1. Sparrow-Lark—Alaudidae
  2. Sparrows—Emberizidae
  3. Sparrows—Passeridae
  4. Sparrow-Weavers—Ploceidae
  5. Sparrows—Estrildidae

Grosbeaks

  1. Grosbeaks—Thraupidae
  2. Grosbeaks—Cardinalidae
  3. Grosbeaks, Grosbeak-Canaries—Fringillidae
  4. Grosbeak Weaver—Ploceidae

Hawks

  1. Hawks, Goshawks, Hawk-Eagles, Chanting-Goshawks, Harrier-Hawks, Sparrowhawks, Cuckoo-Hawks—Accipitridae
  2. Hawk-Cuckoos—Cuculidae
  3. Hawk-Owls, Northern Hawk Owl—Strigidae
  4. Nighthawks—Caprimulgidae

Note: A colloquial name for the American Kestrel is the Sparrowhawk, which would add Falconidae to the hawk total.

Parrots

  1. New Zealand Parrots (no species names)—Strigopidae
  2. Parrots, Parakeets, Parrotlets—Psittacidae
  3. Parrot Crossbill—Fringillidae
  4. Parrotfinch—Estrildidae

Pittas

  1. Pittas—Pittidae
  2. Antpittas—Conopophagidae
  3. Antpittas—Grallariidae
  4. Melampittas—Paradisaeidae

Robins

  1. Ground-Robin, Flyrobins, Robins, Scrub-Robins—Petroicidae
  2. Robins, Scrub-Robins, Magpie-Robins, Robin-chats, Bush-Robin—Muscicapidae
  3. Robins—Turdidae
  4. Robin Accentor—Prunellidae

Buntings

  1. Buntings—Calcariidae
  2. Buntings—Emberizidae
  3. Buntings—Cardinalidae

Canaries

  1. Canary Flycatcher—Petroicidae
  2. Canary-Flycatchers—Stenostiridae
  3. Canaries—Fringillidae

Catbirds

  1. Catbirds—Ptilonorhynchidae
  2. Abyssinian Catbird—Sylviidae
  3. Catbirds—Mimidae

Honeyeaters

  1. Honeyeaters—Meliphagidae
  2. Honeyeaters—Melanocharitidae
  3. Hawaiian Honeyeaters (no species names, all extinct)—Mohoidae

Hoopoes

  1. Hoopoes—Upupidae
  2. Woodhoopoes—Phoeniculidae
  3. Hoopoe-Larks—Alaudidae

Manakins/Mannikins

  1. Cinnamon Manakin-Tyrant—Tyrannidae
  2. Manakins, Tyrant-Manakins—Pipridae
  3. Mannikins—Estrildidae

Owls

  1. Owls, Sooty-Owls, Masked-Owls, Grass-Owls, Bay-Owls—Tytonidae
  2. Scops-Owls, Owls, Eagle-Owls, Screech-Owls, Wood-Owls, Pygmy-Owls, Hawk-Owls—Strigidae
  3. Owlet-Nightjars—Aegothelidae

Petrels

  1. Petrel, Giant-Petrels—Procellariidae
  2. Storm-Petrels—Hydrobatidae
  3. Diving-Petrels—Pelecanoididae

Rollers

  1. Rollers—Coraciidae
  2. Ground-Rollers—Brachypteraciidae
  3. Cuckoo-Roller—Leptosomatidae

Snipes

  1. Snipes—Scolopacidae
  2. Seedsnipes—Thinocoridae
  3. Painted-snipes—Rostratulidae

Swallows

  1. Woodswallows—Artamidae
  2. Swallows—Hirundinidae
  3. Swallow Tanager—Thraupidae

Barn Swallow Signature3

Swifts

  1. Swifts, Martins, Swiftlets—Apodidae
  2. Treeswifts—Hemiprocnidae
  3. Swift Parrot—Psittacidae

Tanagers

  1. Tanagers—Thraupidae
  2. Tanager Finch, Bush-Tanagers—Emberizidae
  3. Tanagers, Ant-Tanagers—Cardinalidae

Turkeys

  1. Brush-Turkeys—Megapodiidae
  2. Turkeys—Phasianidae
  3. Turkey Vulture—Cathartidae

Note: The Australian Bustard is sometimes known as the Australian Turkey, which would add Otididae.

Berrypeckers

  1. Berrypeckers—Melanocharitidae
  2. Berrypeckers—Paramythiidae

Blackbirds

  1. Blackbirds—Turdida
  2. Blackbirds—Icteridae

Bluebirds

  1. Fairy-bluebird—Irenidae
  2. Bluebirds—Turdidae

Eagles

  1. Eagles—Accipitridae
  2. Eagle-Owl—Strigidae

Emus

  1. Emus—Dromaiidae
  2. Emuwrens—Maluridae

Grouse

  1. Grouse—Phasianidae
  2. Sandgrouses—Pteroclidae

Kinglets

  1. Kinglet Calyptura—Cotingidae
  2. Kinglets—Regulidae

Nightjars

  1. Owlet-Nightjars—Aegothelidae
  2. Nightjars—Caprimulgidae

Ovenbirds

  1. Ovenbirds (no species names)—Furnariidae
  2. Ovenbird—Parulidae

Pipits

  1. Antpipits—Tyrannidae
  2. Pipits—Motacillidae

Redstarts

  1. Redstarts—Muscicapidae
  2. Redstarts—Parulidae

Sandpipers

  1. Diademed Sandpiper-Plover—Charadriidae
  2. Sandpipers—Scolopacidae

Vireos

  1. Antvireo—Thamnophilidae
  2. Vireo, Shrike-vireos—Vireonidae

Vultures

  1. Vultures—Cathartidae
  2. Vultures—Accipitridae

Weavers

  1. Weaver, Buffalo-Weavers, Sparrow-Weavers—Ploceidae
  2. Parasitic Weaver—Viduidae
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Frank Izaguirre

Frank Izaguirre

Frank Izaguirre is a writer and scholar of environmental writing currently pursuing a Ph.D. in English literature at West Virginia University. He loves to read any bird book he can get his hands on, and is currently serving as editorial intern at Birding magazine.
Frank Izaguirre

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