Sylviidae is a family of passerine birds that includes the typical warblers and a number of babblers formerly placed within the Old World babbler family. They are found in Eurasia and Africa.

Sylvia atricapilla male 2.jpg
Eurasian blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla)
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Superfamily: Sylvioidea
Family: Sylviidae
Leach, 1820

See text

Taxonomy and systematicsEdit

The scientific name Sylviidae was introduced by the English zoologist William Elford Leach (as Sylviadæ) in a guide to the contents of the British Museum published in 1820.[1][2] The family became part of an assemblage known as the Old World warblers and was a wastebin taxon with over 400 species of bird in over 70 genera.[3] Advances in classification, particularly helped with molecular data, have led to the splitting out of several new families from within this group. There is now evidence that these Sylvia "warblers" are more closely related to the Old World babblers than the warblers and thus these birds are better referred to as Sylvia babblers, or just sylviids.[4]

A molecular phylogenetic study using mitochondrial DNA sequence data published in 2011 found that the species in the genus Sylvia formed two distinct clades.[5] Based on these results, the ornithologists Edward Dickinson and Leslie Christidis in the fourth edition of Howard and Moore Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World, chose to split the genus and moved most of the species into a resurrected genus Curruca, retaining only the Eurasian blackcap and the garden warbler in Sylvia. They also moved the African hill babbler and Dohrn's thrush-babbler into Sylvia.[6] The split was not accepted by the British Ornithologists' Union on the grounds that "a split into two genera would unnecessarily destabilize nomenclature and results in only a minor increase in phylogenetic information content."[7]

Pycnonotidae – bulbuls (160 species)

Sylviidae – sylviid babblers (34 species)

Paradoxornithidae – parrotbills and myzornis (37 species)

Zosteropidae – white-eyes (146 species)

Timaliidae – tree babblers (57 species)

Pellorneidae – ground babblers (65 species)

Alcippeidae – Alcippe fulvettas (10 species)

Leiothrichidae – laughingthrushes and allies (133 species)

Phylogeny based on a study of the babblers by Cai and colleagues published in 2019.[8][9]

List of speciesEdit

The family includes 34 species divided into 2 genera:[9] This list is presented according to the IOC taxonomic sequence and can also be sorted alphabetically by common name and binomial.

Genus Common name Binomial name IOC sequence
Sylvia Scopoli, 1769
Eurasian blackcap Sylvia atricapilla 1
Garden warbler Sylvia borin 2
Dohrn's warbler Sylvia dohrni 3
Abyssinian catbird Sylvia galinieri 4
Bush blackcap Sylvia nigricapillus 5
African hill babbler Sylvia abyssinica 6
Rwenzori hill babbler Sylvia atriceps 7
Curruca Bechstein, 1802
Barred warbler Curruca nisoria 8
Layard's warbler Curruca layardi 9
Banded parisoma Curruca boehmi 10
Chestnut-vented warbler Curruca subcoerulea 11
Desert whitethroat Curruca minula 12
Lesser whitethroat Curruca curruca 13
Hume's whitethroat Curruca althaea 14
Brown parisoma Curruca lugens 15
Yemen warbler Curruca buryi 16
Arabian warbler Curruca leucomelaena 17
Western Orphean warbler Curruca hortensis 18
Eastern Orphean warbler Curruca crassirostris 19
African desert warbler Curruca deserti 20
Asian desert warbler Curruca nana 21
Tristram's warbler Curruca deserticola 22
Menetries's warbler Curruca mystacea 23
Rüppell's warbler Curruca ruppeli 24
Cyprus warbler Curruca melanothorax 25
Sardinian warbler Curruca melanocephala 26
Western subalpine warbler Curruca iberiae 27
Moltoni's warbler Curruca subalpina 28
Eastern subalpine warbler Curruca cantillans 29
Common whitethroat Curruca communis 30
Spectacled warbler Curruca conspicillata 31
Marmora's warbler Curruca sarda 32
Dartford warbler Curruca undata 33
Balearic warbler Curruca balearica 34


Sylviids are small to medium-sized passerine birds. The bill is generally thin and pointed with bristles at the base. Sylviids have a slender shape and an inconspicuous and mostly plain plumage. The wings have ten primaries, which are rounded and short in non-migratory species.[3]

Distribution and habitatEdit

Most species occur in Asia, and to a lesser extent in Africa. A few range into Europe.


  1. ^ Leach, William Elford (1820). "Eleventh Room". Synopsis of the Contents of the British Museum (17th ed.). London: British Museum. pp. 66–67. The name of the author is not specified in the document.
  2. ^ Bock, Walter J. (1994). History and nomenclature of avian family-group names. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History Issue 222. pp. 152, 245. hdl:2246/830.
  3. ^ a b Bairlein, F.; Bonan, A. "Old World Warblers (Sylviidae)". In del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J.; Christie, D.A.; de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions. Retrieved 15 December 2016.
  4. ^ "SYLVIDS Sylviidae". Bird Families of the World. Retrieved 6 March 2017.
  5. ^ Voelker, Gary; Light, Jessica E. (2011). "Palaeoclimatic events, dispersal and migratory losses along the Afro-European axis as drivers of biogeographic distribution in Sylvia warblers". BMC Evolutionary Biology. 11 (163): 163. doi:10.1186/1471-2148-11-163. PMC 3123607. PMID 21672229.
  6. ^ Dickinson, E.C.; Christidis, L., eds. (2014). The Howard & Moore Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World, Volume 2: Passerines (4th ed.). Eastbourne, UK: Aves Press. pp. 509–512. ISBN 978-0-9568611-2-2.
  7. ^ Sangster, G.; et al. (2016). "Taxonomic recommendations for Western Palearctic birds: 11th report". Ibis. 158 (1): 206–212. doi:10.1111/ibi.12322.
  8. ^ Cai, T.; Cibois, A.; Alström, P.; Moyle, R.G.; Kennedy, J.D.; Shao, S.; Zhang, R.; Irestedt, M.; Ericson, P.G.P.; Gelang, M.; Qu, Y.; Lei, F.; Fjeldså, J. (2019). "Near-complete phylogeny and taxonomic revision of the world's babblers (Aves: Passeriformes)". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 130: 346–356. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2018.10.010.
  9. ^ a b Gill, F.; Donsker, D.; Rasmussen, P., eds. (August 2022). "Sylviid babblers, parrotbills, white-eyes". IOC World Bird List. v 12.2. Retrieved August 9, 2022.