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House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)

House Sparrow ( Passer domesticus )

without rank: Amniotes (Amniota)
without rank: Sauropsida
Class : Birds (aves)
without rank: Neornithes
Subclass : New-jawed birds (Neognathae)
Order : Passerines
Scientific name
Linnaeus , 1758

The passerine birds (Passeriformes, from Latin passer , "sparrow") form the largest order of the class of birds (Aves) with about 5700 species . The (unscientific) umbrella term non-sparrow birds (Nonpasseriformes) is often found for all other bird orders .


Passerine birds are rather small birds compared to the representatives of other families . The body length ranges from 6.5 ( stubby-tailed dwarf tyrant ) to 120 ( birds of paradise ) centimeters. Many passerines at high latitudes are migratory birds , while resident birds are mainly found in the subtropical and tropical species. To the latter belong the species in the families of the lyre tails or the lobed birds , in which the flight ability is poorly developed.

Food and foraging

The vast majority of passerine birds eat invertebrates or plant seeds , often both. Exceptions to this general rule include some mainly in the tropical rain forest is living families to which the birds of paradise , the Manakin and Cotingas count. They feed almost exclusively on fruits. The stranglers, on the other hand, are carnivores that prey on large insects as well as small vertebrates such as lizards and mice . Crossbills, on the other hand, live almost exclusively on conifer seeds as adult birds . They are adapted to their diet in that their beak is crossed and they are able to remove seeds from cones as if with tweezers . The dippers dive for insects in shallow and fast-flowing streams . They are the only passerines with this ability.

For a few species the use of tools in food acquisition has also been described. These include, for example, the woodpecker finch on the Galapagos Islands , which pokes with a stick or cactus thorn for insects that live in the cracks of the bark of trees.

Passerine birds are one of the few vertebrates that cannot synthesize the vitamin C they need themselves. It must therefore be ingested with food.


The passerine birds are now divided into three sub-orders. The basal, New Zealand Maori panties (Acanthisitti) are the sister group of all other passerine birds. The rest are divided into the screeching birds (Tyranni), which have a simpler lower larynx , and the songbirds (Passeri), whose vocal heads are developed in such a way that they can produce a variety of tones. There are around 5,700 species of passerine birds in total.

 Passerines (Passeriformes)  

 Maori panties (Acanthisitti)


Screeching Birds (Tyranni)


Songbirds (passeri)

See also


Web links

Commons : Passeriformes  - album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. S. Englard, p Seifter: The biochemical functions of ascorbic acid. In: Ann. Rev. Nutr. 6, 1986, pp. 365-406, doi: 10.1146 / .
  2. PGP Ericson, L. Christidis, A. Cooper, M. Irestedt, J. Jackson, US Johansson, JA Norman: A Gondwanan origin of passerine birds supported by DNA sequences of the endemic New Zealand wrens. In: Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B. 269, 2002, pp. 235–241, PMC 1690883 (free full text)
  3. ^ F. Keith Barker, Alice Cibois, Peter Schikler, Julie Feinstein, Joel Cracraft: Phylogeny and diversification of the largest avian radiation. In: PNAS. Vol. 101, no.30, July 27, 2004, (PDF)
  4. ^ Scott V. Edwards, John Harshman: Passeriformes. Perching Birds, Passerine Birds. Version June 24, 2008. in The Tree of Life Web Project