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A passerine (//) is any bird of the order Passeriformes (//; from Latin passer 'sparrow' and formis '-shaped'), which includes more than half of all bird species. Sometimes known as perching birds, passerines generally have an anisodactyl arrangement of their toes (three pointing forward and one back), which facilitates perching.
|Clockwise from top right: Palestine sunbird (Cinnyris osea), blue jay (Cyanocitta cristata), house sparrow (Passer domesticus), great tit (Parus major), hooded crow (Corvus cornix), southern masked weaver (Ploceus velatus)|
|Song of a purple-crowned fairywren (Malurus coronatus)|
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|Roughly 140 families, 6,500 species|
With more than 140 families and some 6,500 identified species, Passeriformes is the largest order of birds and among the most diverse clades of terrestrial vertebrates, representing 60% of birds. Passerines are divided into three clades: Acanthisitti (New Zealand wrens), Tyranni (mostly-South American suboscines), and Passeri (oscines or songbirds). The passerines contain several groups of brood parasites such as the viduas, cuckoo-finches, and the cowbirds. Most passerines are omnivorous, though shrikes are carnivorous, and others are insectivorous.
The terms "passerine" and "Passeriformes" are derived from the scientific name of the house sparrow, Passer domesticus, and ultimately from the Latin term passer, which refers to sparrows and similar small birds.
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