Going through my archives the other morning I was horrified to discover I have not posted a birding post for nearly five months. How on earth did that happen?! I thought I better rectify this pretty sharpish, and where better than with one of the largest order of bird classifications – commonly known as passerines. Most of them are omnivorous, but there are a few such as the shrikes which are carnivorous.
But what on earth is a ‘passerine’ bird I hear you cry. It is a term I have used myself in a previous post but it wasn’t until last Sunday that I looked up what the term actually means “Passerines are the perching birds — technically members of the order Passeriformes. Birds in this order are characterized by having four toes, three directed forward and one backward, all joining the foot at the same level” [quote ref]
There are more 5,000 identified species within this classification, which is more than half of the world’s bird species. That is probably one of the reasons why I have so many examples in my photographic archives. All of the ones in this post are just a small selection of what I took in April and May of this year! Sometimes passerines are described as the songbirds, and it is true songbirds are passerines. However as you will have noted from this collection not all passerines are celebrated for their vocals!
The best way to identify a passerine is by its toe arrangement. It is technically called anisodactyl, and is beautifully demonstrated by the Sparrow, Zitting Cisticola, Black Headed Weaver and Sardinian Warbler below. However even that can be misleading so if you would like to discover more visit this excellent Passerine Definition blog post.
You never thought you’d learn so much on a Tuesday afternoon in August did you?!