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File:Eastern Whipbird.png
Eastern Whipbird
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Clade: Inopinaves
Order: Passeriformes
Suborder: Passeri
Infraorder: Corvida
Superfamily: Orioloidea
Family: Psophodidae
Bonaparte, 1854

See list below

Psophodidae is a family of passerine birds native to Australia and nearby areas. It has a complicated taxonomic history and different authors vary in which birds they include in the family. It includes at least the quail-thrushes (Cinclosoma), 5 species of ground-dwelling birds found in Australia and New Guinea. The jewel-babblers (Ptilorrhoa), 4 species found in rainforest in New Guinea, also seem to belong in this family.

The whipbirds and wedgebills (Psophodes and Androphobus) are often included in which case the name Psophodidae has priority as the name of the family. The Malaysian Rail-babbler (Eupetes macrocerus) was formerly sometimes placed in this family which would then be called Eupetidae.


The quail-thrushes, jewel-babblers, whipbirds and wedgebills were traditionally included with the logrunners (Orthonyx) in the family Orthonychidae.[1] Sometimes the Malaysian Rail-babbler and Blue-capped Ifrita (Ifrita kowaldi) were also included in the family.[2] In 1985, Sibley and Ahlquist found that the logrunners were not related to the others and included only the logrunners in the Orthonychidae.[3] They treated the others as the subfamily Cinclosomatinae within their expanded family Corvidae.[4]

A numbers of authors later treated the quail-thrushes and allies as the family Cinclosomatidae, a name first coined by Gregory Mathews in 1921–1922. However, if the whipbirds are included in the family, the older name Psophodidae Bonaparte, 1854 has priority. If the Malaysian Rail-babbler is also included, the name Eupetidae Bonaparte, 1850 has priority.[3]

The Malaysian Rail-babbler has now been shown to be unrelated to the others, probably being an early offshoot of the Passerida.[5] Another study found the quail-thrushes and jewel-babblers to be related to each other but did not show them to have a close relationship with Psophodes or Ifrita.[6]


The quail-thrushes and jewel babblers are medium-sized songbirds, 17–28 cm in length.[7][8] They have strong legs and bills. Males and females often differ in plumage markings. The quail-thrushes are largely brown above, the colour varying to provide camouflage against the soil, but are more boldly marked with black and white below.[8] Jewel-babblers usually have extensive blue in their plumage.[7] Most species have loud, distinctive songs.[9]

Whipbirds and wedgebills are 19–31 cm long. They are mainly olive-green or brown in colour and have a crest.[8]

Distribution and habitat[]

Jewel-babblers are found on New Guinea and the neighbouring islands of Yapen, Batanta, Misool and Salawati.[7] They occur in forest, generally replacing each other at different altitudes. The Painted Quail-thrush is also found in the forests of New Guinea.[7] The other quail-thrushes are restricted to Australia where they are found in drier habitats, occurring in open forest, scrub and on stony ground.[8] None of the species are thought to be threatened but one subspecies of the Spotted Quail-thrush is possibly extinct.[10]

The whipbirds and wedgebills are all found in Australia, occurring in a range of habitats from rainforest to arid scrub.[8] The Western Whipbird is considered to be Near-threatened because of habitat loss and fires while the Papuan Whipbird is classed as Data Deficient.[11][12]


File:Cinclosoma castanotum.jpg

Chestnut-backed Quail-thrush (Cinclosoma castanotum)

They are terrestrial birds which fly fairly weakly and prefer to squat or run when disturbed.[1] They forage on the ground feeding mainly on insects and other invertebrates.[9] In the desert, quail-thrushes also eat some seeds.[1]

They build a cup-shaped nest among shrubs or on the ground. Two or three eggs are laid.[9]

Species list[]


Eastern Whipbird (Psophodes olivaceus)


  1. ^ a b c Roberson, Don (2004) Quail-thrushes Cinclosomatidae, Bird Families of the World. Accessed 4 January 2010.
  2. ^ Howard, Richard & Alick Moore (1980) A complete checklist of the Birds of the World, 1st ed., Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  3. ^ a b Christidis, Les & Walter Boles (2008) Systematics and Taxonomy of Australian Birds, CSIRO Publishing.
  4. ^ Sibley's Sequence: Passeriformes. Accessed 4 January 2010.
  5. ^ Jønsson, K.A., J. Fjeldså, P.G.P. Ericson, and M. Irestedt (2007) Systematic placement of an enigmatic Southeast Asian taxon Eupetes macrocerus and implications for the biogeography of a main songbird radiation, the Passerida, Biology Letters 3(3):323–326.
  6. ^ Norman, Janette A., Per G.P. Ericson, Knud A. Jønsson, Jon Fjeldså & Les Christidis (2009) A multi-gene phylogeny reveals novel relationships for aberrant genera of Australo-Papuan core Corvoidea and polyphyly of the Pachycephalidae and Psophodidae (Aves: Passeriformes), Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 52:488–497.
  7. ^ a b c d Coates, Brian J. & William S. Peckover (2001), Birds of New Guinea and the Bismarck Archipelago: a photographic guide, Dove Publications, Alderley, Australia.
  8. ^ a b c d e Pizzey, Graham & Frank Knight (1997) Field Guide to the Birds of Australia, HarperCollins, London, UK.
  9. ^ a b c Perrins, Christopher, ed. (2004) The New Encyclopedia of Birds, Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  10. ^ Department for Environment and Heritage (2008) Cinclosoma punctatum anachoreta Spotted Quail-thrush. Accessed 4 January 2010.
  11. ^ BirdLife International (2009) Species factsheet: Psophodes nigrogularis. Downloaded from on 4 January 2010.
  12. ^ BirdLife International (2009) Species factsheet: Androphobus viridis. Downloaded from on 4 January 2010.

External links[]

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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