Songbird Showpiece of Passerine Power

I am very happy that the huge efforts into a book on the passerine radiation, that I was fortunate to take some part in, are nearing fruition.

Led by Jon Fjeldså, with co-editors Les Cristidis and Per GP Ericson, this monster book (estimated at 3 kg!) should adorn the book shelf or coffee table of any ornithologist or birder who cares about passerines. And who doesn’t? With >6,000 species, passerines make up 60% if avian diversity, and is a remarkable order that rapidly diversified and spread across all continents but Antarctica. They comprise a crazy diversity of plumage, vocalization, behavior, and ecology!

If you learned your birds some 10–20 years ago or earlier, you will know that lots of (annoying?) rearrangements and reclassifications have happened lately. This is because traditional taxonomy often sorted birds into large, ecologically-based groups, like warblers or finches, since the morphological differences were relatively small. Over the past couple of decades, DNA-based studies have revealed time and time again that these relationships were not what we thought. Here, we try to set the record straight, and propose a new classification and linear taxonomy based on the evolutionary history of passerines.

My contributions to the book is the back-bone phylogeny and chronology, represented in one chapter and one appendix. There are also many other thematic chapters, as well as a whole section going through all the passerine families. The book is illustrated with hundreds and hundreds of watercolor paintings by Jon Fjeldså, a reason on its own to get the book!

If you are interested, read more and perhaps place a discounted pre-order with Lynx Edicions by June 30th! The book is expected to come hot off the printers in mid-July. Enjoy!

Citation: Fjeldså J, Christidis L & Ericson PGP (eds). The largest avian radiation – the evolution of perching birds, or the order Passeriformes. Under production, Lynx Edicions (Barcelona). [My specific contributions are listed here.]

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