Malagasy warblers
The Long-billed Bernieria (Bernieria madagascariensis) was formerly placed in the Pycnonotidae
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Suborder: Passeri
Family: Bernieridae
Cibois, David, Gregory & Pasquet, 2010


The Malagasy warblers are a newly validated clade of songbirds. They were formally named Bernieridae in 2010.[1] The family consists of ten species of small forest birds and is endemic to Madagascar.

The monophyly of this group has been proposed as early as 1934 (Salomonsen 1934). But the traditional assignments of these birds were maintained, mistaken by their convergent evolution and the lack of dedicated research. The families to which the Malagasy warblers were formerly assigned—Pycnonotidae (bulbuls) but especially Timaliidae (Old World babblers) and the Old World warbler—were used as "wastebin taxa", uniting unrelated lineages that were somewhat similar ecologically and morphologically.

It was not until the analysis of mtDNA cytochrome b and 16S rRNA (Cibois et al. 1999, 2001) as well as nDNA RAG-1 and RAG-2 exon (Beresford et al. 2005) sequence data, that the long-proposed grouping was accepted.

Formerly in Pycnonotidae (bulbuls)

Formerly in Sylviidae (Old World warblers)

Formerly in Timaliidae (Old World babblers)

An eleventh species, Rand's Warbler (Randia pseudozosterops), may also belong in this family.[1]

Several of these species are very poorly known and were described by science only very recently. Appert's Tetraka was only described in 1972 and the Cryptic Warbler in 1996. The Appert's Tetraka, along with the Grey-crowned Tetraka and the Dusky Greenbul are threatened by habitat loss, and are listed as vulnerable.

Most Malagasy warblers live in the humid rainforests in the east of Madagascar, though a few species are found in the drier south west of the island. They feed on insects and will form mixed-species feeding flocks of up to six species while foraging.


  1. ^ a b Cibois, Alice; Normand David, Steven M. S. Gregory & Eric Pasquet (2010) Bernieridae (Aves: Passeriformes): a family-group name for the Malagasy sylvioid radiation, Zootaxa, 2554: 65-68.
  • Cibois, Alice; Pasquet, Eric; Schulenberg, Thomas S. & (1999): Molecular Systematics of the Malagasy Babblers (Passeriformes: Timaliidae) and Warblers (Passeriformes: Sylviidae), Based on Cytochrome b and 16S rRNA Sequences. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 13(3): 581–595. doi:10.1006/mpev.1999.0684 (HTML abstract)
  • 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.
  • Salomonsen, F. (1934): Revision of the Madagascar Timaliine birds. Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. (10th series) 14: 60–79.
Sterna diversity This article is part of Project Bird Families, a All Birds project that aims to write comprehensive articles on each bird family, including made-up families.
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