– Grassbirds & Allies

Tawny Grassbird Megalurus timoriensis ©Ian Montgomery Website

The Locustellidae are a newly recognized family of small insectivorous warblers & others, formerly placed in the Old World warbler ‘wastebin’ family. It contains the grass warblers, grassbirds, and the Bradypterus ‘bush warblers’. These birds occur mainly in Eurasia, Africa, and the Australian region. The family name is sometimes given as Megaluridae, but Locustellidae has priority.

The species are smallish birds with tails that are usually long and pointed; the scientific name of the genus Megalurus in fact means ‘the large-tailed one’ in plain English. They are less wren-like than the typical shrub-warblers (Cettia) but like these drab brownish or buffy all over. They tend to be larger and slimmer than Cettia though, and many have bold dark streaks on wings and/or underside. Most live in scrubland and frequently hunt food by clambering through thick tangled growth or pursuing it on the ground; they are perhaps the most terrestrial of the warblers. Very unusual for Passeriformes, beginning evolution towards flightlessness is seen in some taxa.

Among the warbler and babbler superfamily Sylvioidea, the Locustellidae are closest to the Malagasy warblers, another newly recognised family and the Black-capped Donacobius (Donacobius atricapillus).

According to the IOC there are 62 species in this family. They are:

Cordillera Ground Warbler Robsonius rabori
Sierra Madre Ground Warbler Robsonius thompsoni
Bicol Ground Warbler Robsonius sorsogonensis

Russet Bush Warbler Locustella mandelli
Dalat Bush Warbler Locustella idonea
Javan Bush Warbler Locustella montis
Taiwan Bush Warbler Locustella alishanensis
Sichuan Bush Warbler Locustella chengi
West Himalayan Bush Warbler Locustella kashmirensis
Spotted Bush Warbler Locustella thoracica
Baikal Bush Warbler Locustella davidi
Chestnut-backed Bush Warbler Locustella castanea
Long-tailed Bush Warbler Locustella caudata
Common Grasshopper Warbler Locustella naevia
Long-billed Bush Warbler Locustella major
Chinese Bush Warbler Locustella tacsanowskia
Brown Bush Warbler Locustella luteoventris
River Warbler Locustella fluviatilis
Savi’s Warbler Locustella luscinioides
Lanceolated Warbler Locustella lanceolata
Middendorff’s Grasshopper Warbler Locustella ochotensis
Styan’s Grasshopper Warbler Locustella pleskei
Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler Locustella certhiola
Marsh Grassbird Locustella pryeri
Gray’s Grasshopper Warbler Locustella fasciolata
Sakhalin Grasshopper Warbler Locustella amnicola
Benguet Bush Warbler Locustella seebohmi
Friendly Bush Warbler Locustella accentor

Little Rush Warbler Bradypterus baboecala
Highland Rush Warbler Bradypterus centralis
White-winged Swamp Warbler Bradypterus carpalis
Grauer’s Swamp Warbler Bradypterus graueri
Brown Emutail Bradypterus brunneus
Knysna Warbler Bradypterus sylvaticus
Cinnamon Bracken Warbler Bradypterus cinnamomeus
Evergreen Forest Warbler Bradypterus lopezi
Bangwa Forest Warbler Bradypterus bangwaensis
Barratt’s Warbler Bradypterus barratti
Ja River Scrub Warbler Bradypterus grandis
Bamboo Warbler Bradypterus alfredi

Sri Lanka Bush Warbler Elaphrornis palliseri

Broad-tailed Grassbird Schoenicola platyurus
Fan-tailed Grassbird Schoenicola brevirostris

Striated Grassbird Megalurus palustris
Rufous Songlark Megalurus mathewsi
Brown Songlark Megalurus cruralis
Little Grassbird Megalurus gramineus
New Zealand Fernbird Megalurus punctatus
Chatham Fernbird Megalurus rufescens
Spinifexbird Megalurus carteri
Tawny Grassbird Megalurus timoriensis
Papuan Grassbird Megalurus macrurus
Fly River Grassbird Megalurus albolimbatus

Grey Emutail Amphilais seebohmi

New Caledonian Thicketbird Megalurulus mariei
New Britain Thicketbird Megalurulus grosvenori
Melanesian Thicketbird Megalurulus whitneyi
Bougainville Thicketbird Megalurulus llaneae
Rusty Thicketbird Megalurulus rubiginosus
Long-legged Thicketbird Megalurulus rufus

Buff-banded Thicketbird Buettikoferella bivittata

Bristled Grassbird Chaetornis striata

Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 62

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