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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.


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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


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


    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


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


    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


    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


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


    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


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


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


    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.


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


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


    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


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


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


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


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


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


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


    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


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


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


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


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

    Barn Swallow Signature3


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


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


    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.


    1. Berrypeckers—Melanocharitidae
    2. Berrypeckers—Paramythiidae


    1. Blackbirds—Turdida
    2. Blackbirds—Icteridae


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


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


    1. Emus—Dromaiidae
    2. Emuwrens—Maluridae


    1. Grouse—Phasianidae
    2. Sandgrouses—Pteroclidae


    1. Kinglet Calyptura—Cotingidae
    2. Kinglets—Regulidae


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


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


    1. Antpipits—Tyrannidae
    2. Pipits—Motacillidae


    1. Redstarts—Muscicapidae
    2. Redstarts—Parulidae


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


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


    1. Vultures—Cathartidae
    2. Vultures—Accipitridae


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

    Frank Izaguirre

    Frank Izaguirre is a nature writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. Originally from Miami, FL, his interests include learning bird names in other languages, studying the life histories of extinct birds, and reading the memoirs and essays of early Neotropical ornithologists. He has a special passion for the relationship between nature writing and conservation, and will be co-leading an upcoming IFO Workshop on Birds and Nature Writing.
    Frank Izaguirre

    Latest posts by Frank Izaguirre (see all)

    • Paul Clapham

      Since the recent spitting of the “babblers” into several smaller families we (i.e. the Clements taxonomy) now have Fulvettas in Paradoxornithidae and Leiothrichidae.

      • Frank Izaguirre

        Great catch, Paul. It seems like the creation of Paradoxornithidae adds one more to the “babbler” total, tying them with the “flycatchers.” When I put the list together, Clements 6.7 was the most recent version, so that’s what I used. I elaborate on that a little in the article.

        As a sidenote, Paradoxornithidae is such a great name for a bird family.

    • Pingback: Phenotypic common names | health()

    • Nicholas Sly

      This list is AWESOME! Thanks for compiling it.

      • Frank Izaguirre

        Thanks, Nicholas! It was mostly super fun and sometimes excruciatingly tedious. :)

    • http://www.earlymorningnonsense.blogspot.ca/ Craig Whiteside

      Great work. This is the kind of thing the nerd in me always wants to see reconciled. I have to say though, I feel there is a big difference between a name being used across various families and a name being used as a descriptor, as in Turkey Vulture or many of the Magpie examples listed.

      • Frank Izaguirre

        Thanks, Craig! Yeah, I feel the same way about some of the bird names on the list. Turkey vulture is a good example. It was actually a bit of a challenge to come up with a strict rubric to use for the entire list, which I explain a little more in the article. In most cases, I tended toward including birds, because it’s still interesting to see how many bird names have the word “turkey” or “cardinal” in them.

    • Madeline

      Yes, this is great for us nerds! Having just discovered Costa Rica birds, now I wonder where do you put Tody-flycatcher?

      • Frank Izaguirre

        Thank you, Madeline! Tody-flycatchers are in the Tyrannidae family, which is counted toward the tally of the “flycatchers,” but I forgot to list it as one of the different “flycatcher” names within that family.

        PS – I absolutely love birding in Costa Rica. I lived there for a year, and it’s probably my favorite place to bird in the world.

      • stevebrauning

        Hi all. That brings to mind tody: found in the tody family as well as in Tody-flycatchers and Tody Motmot.

        I noticed another possible entry, under creepers: Woodcreepers.

        • Frank Izaguirre

          I knew someone would think of a totally new category. Yep, that’s three families with at least one bird called a “tody”: Todidae, Momotidae, and Tyrannidae.

    • Eric DeFonso

      A very fun list! Thanks for going to the trouble of compiling it, so we don’t have to! :)

      About “Cardinal” though – I don’t know about all the instances of its use, but I think it doesn’t quite belong here in this list since the term is also a color.

      • Frank Izaguirre

        Good point about cardinal being a color. I had not thought about that. Cardinal lory, cardinal myzomela, cardinal quelea, and possibly cardinal woodpecker seem to fall into that category. There are definitely “cardinals” in both thraupidae and cardinalidae, however.

      • http://www.earlymorningnonsense.blogspot.ca/ Craig Whiteside

        I suppose one would have to determine if the “Cardinal” in those cases is referring to the colour or the bird. Is the Canary Flycatcher so named because of its hue or because it resembles a Canary (which would likely be in its hue, if there is a distinction there…or if the distinction even matters)?

    • Claudius Feger

      How about the Mourners? There are Mourners in the Tityridae and the Tyrannidae, all called Mourners. Until recently the Elegant Mourner was considered a Cotinga … Living in Rio right now made me always wonder about these.

    • Dom Garcia-Hall

      nice list. Swallow tanager doesnt really fit the pattern. I guess it would if it wasn’t just a Thraupid and was called swallow-tanager

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