Ptiliogonatidae diversity
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Clade: Inopinaves
Order: Passeriformes
Suborder: Passeri
Superfamily: Bombycilloidea
Family: Ptiliogonatidae
Baird, 1858


The silky-flycatchers are a small family, Ptilogonatidae , of passerine birds. The family contains only four species in three genera. They were formerly lumped with waxwings and Hypocolius in the family Bombycillidae, and they are listed in that family by the Sibley-Monroe checklist. The family is named for their silky plumage and their aerial flycatching techniques, although they are unrelated to the Old World flycatchers (Muscicapidae) and the tyrant flycatchers (Tyrannidae).[1]

They occur mainly in Central America from Panama to Mexico, with one species, the Phainopepla, extending northwards into the southwestern USA. They are mostly sedentary, but the Phainopepla is migratory over the northern part of its range.[1]

They are related to waxwings, and like that group have a soft silky plumage, usually grey or pale yellow in colour. All species, with the exception of the Black-and-yellow Phainoptila, have small crests. They range in size from 18–25 cm in length and are mostly slender birds (with the exception again of the Black-and-yellow Phainoptila). All the species in this family are sexually dimorphic both in plumage colour and in having a longer tail. Juveniles birds of both sexes are coloured like the female.[1]

These birds eat fruit or insects, and the Phainopepla is particularly dependent on Desert Mistletoe, Phoradendron californicum.

They are birds of various types of woodland (semi-desert with trees for the Phainopepla), and they nest in trees.

Species of Ptilogonatidae


  1. ^ a b c Chu, Miyoko (2005), "Family Ptilogonatidae (Silky-flyctachers)", in del Hoyo, Josep; Elliott, Andrew; Christie, David, Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 10, Cuckoo-shrikes to Thrushes, Barcelona: Lynx Edicions, pp. 292–304, ISBN 84-87334-72-5 

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.
Hemipus picatus This article is part of Project Bird Taxonomy, a All Birds project that aims to write comprehensive articles on every order, family and other taxonomic rank related to birds.
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