Mimid

The mimids are the New World family of passerine birds, Mimidae, that includes thrashers, mockingbirds, tremblers, and the New World catbirds. As their name (Latin for "mimic") suggests, these birds are notable for their vocalization, especially some species' remarkable ability to mimic a wide variety of birds and other sounds heard outdoors.

Mimids
GrayCatbird
Gray catbird
Dumetella carolinensis
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Superfamily: Muscicapoidea
Family: Mimidae
Bonaparte, 1853
Genera

Allenia
Cinclocerthia
Dumetella
Margarops
Melanoptila
Melanotis
Mimus
Oreoscoptes
Ramphocinclus
Toxostoma

Description

There are over 30 species of mimids in two larger and some 10 small or monotypic genera. They tend towards dull grays and browns in their appearance, though a few are black or blue-gray, and many have red, yellow, or white irises. They range from 20 to 33 centimetres in length, and 36 to 56 grams in weight.[1] Many mimids have a rather thrush-like pattern: brown above, pale with dark streaks or spots below. They tend to have longer tails than thrushes (or the bigger wrens, which they also resemble) and longer bills that in many species curve downward.[2]

They have long, strong legs (for passerines) with which many species hop through undergrowth searching for arthropods and fruits to eat. Their habitat varies from forest undergrowth to scrub, high-altitude grasslands, and deserts. The two tremblers live in the atypical habitat of rain forests in the Lesser Antilles, and the brown trembler has the particularly atypical behavior of foraging while clinging to tree trunks.[2]

All known species build somewhat messy, bulky twig nests in dense growth, in most species on the ground or no more than 2 meters up. They usually lay 2 to 5 eggs that hatch in 12 or 13 days, which is also the length of time the chicks stay in the nest. Breeding usually starts in the spring or early in the rainy season, and many species can have two or even three broods per year. Most failures to fledge young are due to predation. Pairs often stay together for more than one breeding season.[2]

In the history of science

Contrary to often-held belief, the Nesomimus mockingbirds may have played at least as great a role as Darwin's finches in inspiring Darwin's work on his theory of evolution.[3]

Systematics

Outside the family

Phylogenetic analyses have shown that mimids are most closely related to starlings.[4][5] These and oxpeckers (and the Philippine creepers if they are not outright but highly apomorphic starlings) form a group of Muscicapoidea which originated probably in the Early Miocene – very roughly 25–20 mya[6] – somewhere in East Asia.[5] This is evidenced by the Asian-SW Pacific distribution of the most basal starlings (and Philippine creepers) and the North American range of the basal mimids.

They are sometimes united with the starlings in the Sturnidae as a tribe Mimini as proposed by Sibley & Monroe (1990).[4] This makes the expanded Sturnidae a rather noninformative group and is probably due to the methodological drawbacks of their DNA-DNA hybridization technique.

Within the family

The mockingbirds with some thrashers seem to form one major clade, while the two other groups and the remaining thrashers seem to form the another, but the basal branching pattern is not well resolved. The tremblers, again, are a monophyletic lineage. The latter, however, are embedded in a paraphyletic catbird-Caribbean thrasher assemblage which consists of many rather basal lineages.[7][8]

For detailed information on the evolutionary relationships of the different mimid lineages, see their articles.

Mockingbirds:

  • Genus Mimus – typical mockingbirds (some 10 species, includes Mimodes)
  • The former genus Nesomimus, now part of Mimus[9] – mockingbirds of the Galápagos Islands (4 species)
  • Genus Melanotis – blue mockingbirds (2 species)

New World catbirds:

Thrashers:

Tremblers

  • Genus Cinclocerthia (2 species)

References

  1. ^ McClure, H. Elliott (1991). Forshaw, Joseph (ed.). Encyclopaedia of Animals: Birds. London: Merehurst Press. pp. 183–184. ISBN 1-85391-186-0.
  2. ^ a b c Clement; Peter; Perrins, Christopher (2003). Mockingbirds. In: Perrins, Christopher (ed.): The Firefly Encyclopedia of Birds: 534–535. Firefly Books. ISBN 1-55297-777-3
  3. ^ Curry, Robert L. (2003). Darwin and the mockingbirds of Galápagos. Archived 1 September 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ a b Sibley, Charles Gald & Monroe, Burt L. Jr. (1990). Distribution and taxonomy of the birds of the world: A Study in Molecular Evolution. Yale University Press, New Haven, CT. ISBN 0-300-04969-2
  5. ^ a b Zuccon, Dario; Cibois, Anne; Pasquet, Eric & Ericson, Per G.P. (2006). Nuclear and mitochondrial sequence data reveal the major lineages of starlings, mynas and related taxa. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 41(2): 333–344. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2006.05.007 PMID 16806992 (HTML abstract)
  6. ^ The seemingly precise dates of Zuccon et al. are not based on material evidence but on a crude estimate; a general Early Miocene age agrees with the phylogeny of other Passeri however.
  7. ^ Barber, Brian R.; Martínez-Gómez, Juan E. & Peterson, A. Townsend (2004). Systematic position of the Socorro mockingbird Mimodes graysoni. J. Avian Biol. 35: 195–198. doi:10.1111/j.0908-8857.2004.03233.x (HTML abstract)
  8. ^ Hunt, Jeffrey S.; Bermingham, Eldredge; & Ricklefs, Robert E. (2001). Molecular systematics and biogeography of Antillean thrashers, tremblers, and mockingbirds (Aves: Mimidae). Auk 118(1): 35–55. DOI:10.1642/0004-8038(2001)118[0035:MSABOA]2.0.CO;2 HTML fulltext without images
  9. ^ American Ornithologists' Union, "Changes since 1 March 2005"

External links

Black catbird

The black catbird (Melanoptila glabrirostris) is a songbird species in the monotypic genus Melanoptila, part of the family Mimidae. At 19–20.5 cm (7.5–8.1 in) in length and 31.6–42 g (1.11–1.48 oz) in mass, it is the smallest of the mimids. Sexes appear similar, with glossy black plumage, black legs and bill, and dark brownish eyes. The species is endemic to the Yucatán Peninsula, and is found as far south as Campeche, northern Guatemala and northern Belize. Although there are historical records from Honduras and the US state of Texas, the species is not now known to occur in either location. It is found at low elevations in semi-arid to humid habitats ranging from shrubland and abandoned farmland to woodland with thick understory, and is primarily sedentary.

Although it is a mimid, the black catbird is not known to imitate any other species. Its song is a mix of harsh notes and clear flute-like whistles, with the phrases repeated. It builds a cup nest in low bushes or trees, and lays two bluish eggs. It is threatened by habitat loss, and has been assessed as near threatened by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

Blue mockingbird

The blue mockingbird (Melanotis caerulescens) is a species of bird in the Mimidae family. It is endemic to Mexico, but has occurred as a vagrant in the southern United States. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry forests, subtropical or tropical moist montane forests, and heavily degraded former forest.

The blue mockingbird is uniformly blue on its back, tail, wings, head and underbelly. This color is a result of feather structure rather than pigment, and therefore can look gray in the shade. It has a black "mask" surrounding its reddish-brown eyes. It has a rather long, slightly graduated tail, and dark blue streaks over its breast. Its bill is long, thin and slightly curved, and its legs and feet are black.

California thrasher

The California thrasher (Toxostoma redivivum) is a large thrasher found primarily in chaparral habitat in California and Baja California. Similar to the crissal and Le Conte's thrashers in habit, the California thrasher is the only species of Toxostoma throughout most of its limited range. Like most thrashers, it rarely flies in the open, preferring to keep hidden in dense brush. Therefore, while it is common throughout much of its range, it is rarely seen.

At about 12 in (30 cm) and nearly 85 g (3.0 oz), the California thrasher is the largest species of mimid. It is generally brown, with buffy underparts and undertail (unlike the crissal). It has a dark cheek pattern and eye-line, and unlike most thrashers, has dark eyes. The California thrasher eats insects and small invertebrates.

Catbird

Several unrelated groups of songbirds are called catbirds because of their wailing calls, which resemble a cat's meowing. The genus name Ailuroedus likewise is from the Greek for "cat-singer" or "cat-voiced".Australasian catbirds are the genera Ailuroedus and the monotypic Scenopooetes. They belong to the bowerbird family (Ptilonorhynchidae) of the basal songbirds:

Ochre-breasted catbird (Ailuroedus stonii)

White-eared catbird (Ailuroedus buccoides)

Tan-capped catbird (Ailuroedus geislerorum)

Green catbird (Ailuroedus crassirostris)

Spotted catbird (Ailuroedus melanotis)

Huon catbird (Ailuroedus astigmaticus)

Black-capped catbird (Ailuroedus melanocephalus)

Black-eared catbird (Ailuroedus melanotis)

Arfak catbird (Ailuroedus arfakianus)

Northern catbird (Ailuroedus jobiensis)

Tooth-billed catbird, Scenopooetes dentirostrisNew World catbirds are two monotypic genera from the mimid family (Mimidae) of the passeridan superfamily Muscicapoidea. Among the Mimidae, they represent independent basal lineages probably closer to the Caribbean thrasher and trembler assemblage than to the mockingbirds and Toxostoma thrashers:

Gray catbird, Dumetella carolinensis

Black catbird, Melanoptila glabrirostrisThe Abyssinian catbird (Parophasma galinieri) represents a monotypic genus from Africa. It is tentatively placed in the Old World babbler family (Timaliidae) of the passeridan superfamily Sylvioidea, but possibly closer to the typical warblers of the Sylviidae.

Chinko

Chinko, also known as Chinko Nature Reserve and the Chinko Project Area, is a protected area in the Central African Republic. The nonprofit conservation organization African Parks began managing Chinko in partnership with the government of the Central African Republic in December 2014.

Curve-billed thrasher

The curve-billed thrasher (Toxostoma curvirostre) is a medium-sized mimid that is a member of the genus Toxostoma, native to the southwestern United States and much of Mexico. Referred to as the default desert bird, it is a non-migratory species. Several subspecies have been classified since 1827, though there is no consensus on the number. Allopatric speciation is believed to have played a major role in the variations of the curve-billed. It shares striking similarities in appearance with another Toxostoma member, Bendire's thrasher. Nevertheless, it is recognized for its grey color and sickle-shaped bill. It generally resides in desert regions of the United States and Mexico, but can inhabit areas predominately populated by humans.

The demeanor of the curve-billed has been described as "shy and rather wild", but it allows humans to view it closely. It is very aggressive in driving out potential threats, whether competitors for food or predators of its chicks. The curve-billed thrasher sometimes mimicks several other species, though not to the extent of other mimids. It has a variety of distinctive songs, and this extensive repertoire of melodies has led it to be known as cuitiacoache (songbird) in Mexico.

Fauna of Toronto

The Fauna of Toronto include a variety of different species that have adapted to the urban environment, its parks, its ravine system, and the creeks and rivers that run throughout the city. Many other animals from outside the city limits have been known to straddle inside on from time to time.

Gray catbird

The gray catbird (Dumetella carolinensis), also spelled grey catbird, is a medium-sized North American and Central American perching bird of the mimid family. It is the only member of the "catbird" genus Dumetella. Like the black catbird (Melanoptila glabrirostris), it is among the basal lineages of the Mimidae, probably a closer relative of the Caribbean thrasher and trembler assemblage than of the mockingbirds and Toxostoma thrashers. In some areas it is known as the slate-colored mockingbird.

Long-billed thrasher

The long-billed thrasher (Toxostoma longirostre) is a medium-sized resident songbird of South Texas and eastern Mexico. It bears a strong resemblance to its close relative the brown thrasher in appearance, calls, and various other behaviors; however, the two species do not overlap in range except in the winter when the brown thrasher will temporarily reside in the northern range of the long-billed.The bird is a large sized mimid that is not especially wary, but it will take precautionary measures to prevent itself from being potential prey. Like other thrashers, it is named after its sweeping methods when searching for food, not for thrashing predators, although they are aggressive defenders of their territories.

Northern mockingbird

The northern mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) is the only mockingbird commonly found in North America. This bird is mainly a permanent resident, but northern birds may move south during harsh weather. This species has rarely been observed in Europe.

This species was first described by Linnaeus in his Systema Naturæ in 1758 as Turdus polyglottos. The northern mockingbird is known for its mimicking ability, as reflected by the meaning of its scientific name, "many-tongued mimic". The northern mockingbird has gray to brown upper feathers and a paler belly. Its tail and wings have white patches which are visible in flight.The northern mockingbird is an omnivore, eating both insects and fruits. It is often found in open areas and forest edges but forages in grassy land. The northern mockingbird breeds in southeastern Canada, the United States, northern Mexico, the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands and the Greater Antilles. It is replaced further south by its closest living relative, the tropical mockingbird. The Socorro mockingbird, an endangered species, is also closely related, contrary to previous opinion. The northern mockingbird is listed as of Least Concern according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The northern mockingbird is known for its intelligence. A 2009 study showed that the bird was able to recognize individual humans, particularly noting those who had previously been intruders or threats. Also birds recognize their breeding spots and return to areas in which they had greatest success in previous years. Urban birds are more likely to demonstrate this behavior. Finally, the mockingbird is influential in United States culture, being the state bird of five states, appearing in book titles, songs and lullabies, and making other appearances in popular culture.

Rosy thrush-tanager

The rosy thrush-tanager (Rhodinocichla rosea), or rose-breasted thrush-tanager, is a species of bird in the currently monotypic genus Rhodinocichla. It was formerly assigned to the family Thraupidae and more recently viewed as being of uncertain placement; a 2015 molecular study places it closest to the Calcariidae. Found in Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Panama, and Venezuela, its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry forests, subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, and heavily degraded former forest.

Starling

Starlings are small to medium-sized passerine birds in the family Sturnidae. The name "Sturnidae" comes from the Latin word for starling, sturnus. Many Asian species, particularly the larger ones, are called mynas, and many African species are known as glossy starlings because of their iridescent plumage. Starlings are native to Europe, Asia and Africa, as well as northern Australia and the islands of the tropical Pacific. Several European and Asian species have been introduced to these areas as well as North America, Hawaii and New Zealand, where they generally compete for habitats with native birds and are considered to be invasive species. The starling species familiar to most people in Europe and North America is the common starling, and throughout much of Asia and the Pacific, the common myna is indeed common.

Starlings have strong feet, their flight is strong and direct, and they are very gregarious. Their preferred habitat is fairly open country, and they eat insects and fruit. Several species live around human habitation and are effectively omnivores. Many species search for prey such as grubs by "open-bill probing", that is, forcefully opening the bill after inserting it into a crevice, thus expanding the hole and exposing the prey; this behaviour is referred to by the German verb zirkeln (pronounced [ˈtsɪɐ̯kl̩n]).Plumage of many species is typically dark with a metallic sheen. Most species nest in holes and lay blue or white eggs.

Starlings have diverse and complex vocalizations and have been known to embed sounds from their surroundings into their own calls, including car alarms and human speech patterns. The birds can recognize particular individuals by their calls and are the subject of research into the evolution of human language.

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