World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article


Article Id: WHEBN0000238293
Reproduction Date:

Title: Piciformes  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Capitonidae, List of birds of Ecuador, Piciformes, Honeyguide, List of birds of Nicaragua
Collection: Neognathae, Piciformes
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Temporal range: Early Eocene to present
Great spotted woodpecker (Dendrocopos major)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Sauropsida
Clade: Dinosauria
Clade: Ornithurae
Clade: Aves
Clade: Picodynastornithes
Order: Piciformes
Meyer & Wolf, 1810
Suborders and families

For prehistoric taxa, see text


Galbuliformes Fürbringer, 1888

Nine families of largely arboreal birds make up the order Piciformes, the best-known of them being the Picidae, which includes the woodpeckers and close relatives. The Piciformes contain about 67 living genera with a little over 400 species, of which the Picidae (woodpeckers and relatives) make up about half.

In general, the Piciformes are insectivorous, although the barbets and toucans mostly eat fruit and the honeyguides are unique among birds in being able to digest beeswax (although insects make up the bulk of their diet). Nearly all Piciformes have parrot-like zygodactyl feet—two toes forward and two back, an arrangement that has obvious advantages for birds that spend much of their time on tree trunks. An exception are a few species of three-toed woodpeckers. The jacamars aside, Piciformes do not have down feathers at any age, only true feathers. They range in size from the rufous piculet at 8 centimetres in length, and weighing 7 grams, to the toco toucan, at 63 centimetres long, and weighing 680 grams.[1] All nest in cavities and have altricial young.


  • Systematics 1
  • Evolution 2
  • Classification 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • Further reading 6
  • External links 7


The Galbulidae and Bucconidae are often separated into a distinct Galbuliformes order. Analysis of nuclear genes confirms that they form a lineage of their own, but suggests that they are better treated as a suborder. The other families form another monophyletic group of suborder rank, but the barbets were determined to be paraphyletic with regard to the toucans and hence, the formerly all-encompassing Capitonidae have been split up.[2] The woodpeckers and honeyguides are each other's closest relatives.[3] According to some researchers,[4] the entire order Piciformes should be included as a subgroup in Coraciiformes.


Primozygodactylus, a zygodactylid bird

Reconstruction of the evolutionary history of the Piciformes has been hampered by poor understanding of the evolution of the zygodactyl foot. A number of prehistoric families and genera, from the Early Eocene Neanis and Hassiavis, the Zygodactylidae/Primoscenidae, Gracilitarsidae, Sylphornithidae, and "Homalopus",[5] to the Miocene "Picus" gaudryi and the Pliocene Bathoceleus are sometimes tentatively assigned to this order.[6] There are some extinct ancestral Piciformes known from fossils which have been difficult to place but at least in part probably belong to the Pici. The modern families are known to exist since the mid-late Oligocene to early Miocene; consequently, the older forms appear to be more basal. A large part of Piciform evolution seems to have occurred in Europe where only Picidae occur today; perhaps even some now exclusively Neotropical families have their origin in the Old World.



  • Unassigned (all fossil)
    • Piciformes gen. et sp. indet. IRScNB Av 65 (Early Oligocene of Boutersem, Belgium)
    • Piciformes gen. et sp. indet. SMF Av 429 (Late Oligocene of Herrlingen, Germany)
  • Suborder Galbuli
    • Family Galbulidae – jacamars (18 species)
    • Family Bucconidae – puffbirds, nunbirds and nunlets (some 30 species)
  • Suborder Pici
    • Unresolved and basal taxa (all fossil)
    • Infraorder Ramphastides
      • Family Megalaimidae – Asian barbets (about 25 species, recently split from Capitonidae)
      • Family Lybiidae – African barbets (about 40 species, recently split from Capitonidae)
      • Family Capitonidae – American barbets (about 15 species)
      • Family Semnornithidae – toucan-barbets (2 species, recently split from Capitonidae)
      • Family Ramphastidae – toucans (about 40 species)
    • Infraorder Picides
      • Family Indicatoridae – honeyguides (17 species)
      • Family Picidae – woodpeckers, piculets and wrynecks (over 200 species)

See also


  1. ^ Short, Lester L. (1991). Forshaw, Joseph, ed. Encyclopaedia of Animals: Birds. London: Merehurst Press. pp. 152–157.  
  2. ^ Lanyon, Scott M.; Hall, John G (April 1994). "Reexamination of Barbet Monophyly Using Mitochondrial-DNA Sequence Data" (PDF).  
  3. ^ Johansson, Ulf S. & Ericson, Per G.P. (2003). Wetmore 1960"sensu"Molecular support for a sister group relationship between Pici and Galbulae (Piciformes (PDF). Journal of Avian Biology 34 (2): 185–197.  
  4. ^ Hackett, Shannon J.; Kimball, Rebecca T.; Reddy, Sushma; Bowie, Rauri C. K.; Braun, Edward L.; Braun, Michael J.; Chojnowski, Jena L.; Cox, W. Andrew; Han, Kin-Lan; Harshman, John; Huddleston, Christopher J.; Marks, Ben D.; Miglia, Kathleen J.; Moore, William S.; Sheldon, Frederick H.; Steadman, David W.; Witt, Christopher C.; Yuri, Tamaki (2008). "A Phylogenomic Study of Birds Reveals Their Evolutionary History". Science 320 (5884): 1763–1768.  
  5. ^ Described in 1870, its name is preoccupied by a subgenus of Cryptocephalus leaf beetles described in 1835.
  6. ^ Cracraft, Joel & Morony, John J., Jr. (1969). "A new Pliocene woodpecker, with comments on the fossil Picidae" (PDF). American Museum Novitates 2400: 1–8. 
  7. ^ "CMC 152", a  

Further reading

  • Gorman, Gerard (2004): Woodpeckers of Europe: A Study of the European Picidae. Bruce Coleman, UK. ISBN 1-872842-05-4.

External links

  • Tree of Life Piciformes
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Hawaii eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.