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Superregnum: Eukaryota
Cladus: Unikonta
Cladus: Opisthokonta
Cladus: Holozoa
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Superphylum: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Megaclassis: Osteichthyes
Cladus: Sarcopterygii
Cladus: Rhipidistia
Cladus: Tetrapodomorpha
Cladus: Eotetrapodiformes
Cladus: Elpistostegalia
Superclassis: Tetrapoda
Cladus: Reptiliomorpha
Cladus: Amniota
Classis: Reptilia
Cladus: Eureptilia
Cladus: Romeriida
Subclassis: Diapsida
Cladus: Sauria
Infraclassis: Archosauromorpha
Cladus: Crurotarsi
Divisio: Archosauria
Cladus: Avemetatarsalia
Cladus: Ornithodira
Subtaxon: Dinosauromorpha
Cladus: Dinosauriformes
Cladus: Dracohors
Cladus: Dinosauria
Ordo: Saurischia
Cladus: Eusaurischia
Subordo: Theropoda
Cladus: Neotheropoda
Cladus: Averostra
Cladus: Tetanurae
Cladus: Avetheropoda
Cladus: Coelurosauria
Cladus: Tyrannoraptora
Cladus: Maniraptoromorpha
Cladus: Maniraptoriformes
Cladus: Maniraptora
Cladus: Pennaraptora
Cladus: Paraves
Cladus: Eumaniraptora
Cladus: Avialae
Infraclassis: Aves
Cladus: Euavialae
Cladus: Avebrevicauda
Cladus: Pygostylia
Cladus: Ornithothoraces
Cladus: Ornithuromorpha
Cladus: Carinatae
Parvclassis: Neornithes
Cohors: Neognathae
Cladus: Neoaves
Cladus: Telluraves
Cladus: Australaves
Ordo: Passeriformes
Subordo: Passeri
Infraordo: Passerida
Superfamilia: Muscicapoidea

Familia: Turdidae
Genus: Catharus
Species: C. aurantiirostris – C. bicknelli – C. dryas – C. frantzii – C. fuscater – C. fuscescens – C. gracilirostris – C. guttatus – C. maculatus – C. mexicanus – C. minimus – C. occidentalis – C. ustulatus

Catharus Bonaparte, 1850

Typus: Turdus aurantiirostris Hartlaub, 1850 = Catharus aurantiirostris


Malacocichla Gould, 1855 PZS p. 285 BHL

Primary references

Bonaparte, C.L. 1850. Conspectus generum avium. Tome I. pp. [1–5], 1–543. Lugduni Batavorum (Leida). (E.J. Brill). First availability p. 278 BHL Reference page.

Additional references

Halley, M.R., Klicka, J., Clee, P.R.S. & Weckstein, J.D. 2017. Restoring the species status of Catharus maculatus (Aves: Turdidae), a secretive Andean thrush, with a critique of the yardstick approach to species delimitation. Zootaxa 4276(3): 387–404. DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.4276.3.4. Full article (PDF) Reference page.

Vernacular names
Deutsch: Musendrosseln
English: American thrushes
suomi: Amerikanrastaat
русский: Короткоклювые дрозды
саха тыла: Кыра чаччыгыныардар уустара
українська: Малі дрозди

The genus Catharus is an evolutionary clade of forest-dwelling passerine birds in the family Turdidae (thrushes), commonly known as nightingale-thrushes. The extant species are widely distributed across the Americas and are descended from a common ancestor that lived 4–6 million years ago.[1] Most of the species are shy of humans, seldom leaving the cover of dense forest vegetation, where their activities are hidden from view. Thus, many fundamental aspects of their biology and life histories are poorly known.[2][3][4]

Nightingale-thrushes are small omnivorous songbirds that, like their sister species the wood thrush (Hylocichla mustelina), exhibit a variety of migratory and non-migratory habits.[1][5] Multiple species are long-distance migrants that breed in North America and "winter" in the Neotropics. The breeding range of one migratory species, the gray-cheeked thrush (C. minimus), extends into eastern Siberia. The remainder of the migratory species are restricted to the Americas, notwithstanding occasional vagrant records in Europe[6] and northeast Asia.[7] The non-migratory species are residents of the Neotropical realm.[8][9][10][11][4]

Historically, the migratory and residents were placed in two genera: Hylocichla and Catharus, respectively.[12] However, molecular studies indicate that hermit thrush (C. guttatus) is more closely related to three Neotropical species (C. occidentalis, C. gracilirostris, C. frantzii) than to the long-distance migrants which it superficially resembles.[13][5][14][1] This pattern of homoplasy may be the result of two independent origins of migration in the genus, and the convergent evolution of phenotypic characters associated with migration.[5]

The taxonomy of Catharus dates to the 18th century and has a confusing history resulting from multiple cryptic species, taxonomic composites, misidentified species, and other historical errors.[11][15][16] The name Catharus, authored by Charles Lucien Bonaparte, is derived from the Ancient Greek καθαρός (katharós) meaning "pure" or "clean", and refers to the plumage of the orange-billed nightingale-thrush (C. aurantiirostris).[17]
Charles Lucien Bonaparte (1803–1857), who gave the genus Catharus its name in 1850.

Species delimitation in Catharus remains an active topic of study and multiple taxonomic splits have been proposed and/or adopted during the last half century, to recognize long-overlooked cryptic species. For example, evidence supporting the split of C. frantzii and C. occidentalis was published in 1969;[11] evidence supporting the split of C. bicknelli and C. minimus was published in 1993;[18] most recently, evidence supporting the split of C. dryas and C. maculatus was published in 2017.[10] The sister taxa C. ustulatus and C. swainsoni have also been treated at species rank by some authors.[16][19]

The nightingale-thrushes, revered for their beautiful songs, have long been compared to the common nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos). Theodore Roosevelt once remarked that, "In melody, and above all in that finer, higher melody where the chords vibrate with the touch of eternal sorrow, [L. megarhynchos] cannot rank with such singers as the Wood Thrush and Hermit Thrush. The serene, ethereal beauty of the Hermit's song, rising and falling through the still evening under the archways of hoary mountain forests that have endured from time everlasting".[20] A study published in 2014 presented evidence that hermit thrush songs, like human music, tend to be constructed of frequency ratios that are expressed as simple mathematical ratios and follow the harmonic series.[21]

Hylocichla mustelina

C. ustulatus

C. swainsoni

C. minimus

C. bicknelli

C. fuscescens

C. guttatus

C. occidentalis

C. gracilirostris

C. frantzii

C. fuscater

C. dryas

C. maculatus

C. aurantiirostris

C. mexicanus

Molecular phylogeny of Catharus based on Everson et al. (2019)[22] with updates from Halley et al. (2017) and Halley (2019)

Image Scientific name Common Name Distribution
Catharus dryas 2.jpg Catharus dryas Yellow-throated nightingale-thrush Resident: Middle America.
Catharus maculatus.jpg Catharus maculatus Speckled nightingale-thrush
(split from C. dryas)
Resident: South America.
Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrush, La Concordia, Mexico (17001712972).jpg Catharus aurantiirostris Orange-billed nightingale-thrush Resident: Mexico to Colombia and Brazil.
Catharus mexicanus -Costa Rica-8.jpg Catharus mexicanus Black-headed nightingale-thrush Resident: Mexico to Costa Rica.
Catharus fuscater Santa Elena 1.JPG Catharus fuscater Slaty-backed nightingale-thrush Resident: Costa Rica to Bolivia.
Catharus ustulatus -North Dakota-8a.jpg Catharus swainsoni Swainson's thrush Migratory: breeds in North America, winters in Central and South America.
Black-billed Nightingale-thrush.jpg Catharus gracilirostris Black-billed nightingale-thrush Resident: Costa Rica and Panama.
Hermit thrush qmnonic.jpg Catharus guttatus Hermit thrush Migratory: breeds and winters in North America.
Russet Nightingale-thrush.jpg Catharus occidentalis Russet nightingale-thrush Resident: Mexico.
Catharus frantzii 57202978.jpg Catharus frantzii Ruddy-capped nightingale-thrush Resident: Mexico to Panama.
Graycheekedthrush36.jpg Catharus minimus Gray-cheeked thrush Migratory: breeds in North America, winters in South America
Catharus bicknelli Mount Ellen 3.jpg Catharus bicknelli Bicknell's thrush Migratory: breeds in northeastern North America, winters in Hispaniola
Veery in CP (43277).jpg Catharus fuscescens Veery Migratory: breeds in North America, winters in South America


Voelker, Gary; Bowie, Rauri C. K.; Klicka, John (2013). "Gene trees, species trees and Earth history combine to shed light on the evolution of migration in a model avian system". Molecular Ecology. 22 (12): 3333–3344. doi:10.1111/mec.12305. ISSN 1365-294X. PMID 23710782. S2CID 28796611.
Goetz, James E.; McFarland, Kent P.; Rimmer, Christopher C. (2003). "Multiple Paternity and Multiple Male Feeders in Bicknell's Thrush (Catharus bicknelli)". The Auk. 120 (4): 1044–1053. doi:10.2307/4090275. ISSN 0004-8038. JSTOR 4090275.
Halley, Matthew R.; Heckscher, Christopher M.; Kalavacharla, Venugopal (2016-06-22). "Multi-Generational Kinship, Multiple Mating, and Flexible Modes of Parental Care in a Breeding Population of the Veery (Catharus fuscescens), a Trans-Hemispheric Migratory Songbird". PLOS ONE. 11 (6): e0157051. Bibcode:2016PLoSO..1157051H. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0157051. ISSN 1932-6203. PMC 4917174. PMID 27331399.
Greeney, Harold F.; Dyrcz, Andrzej; Mikusek, Romuald; Port, Jeff (2015-06-01). "Cooperative Breeding at a Nest of Slaty-backed Nightingale-Thrushes (Catharus fuscater)". The Wilson Journal of Ornithology. 127 (2): 323–325. doi:10.1676/wils-127-02-323-325.1. ISSN 1559-4491. S2CID 83730135.
Winker, Kevin & Pruett, Christin L. (2006): "Seasonal migration, speciation, and morphological convergence in the avian genus Catharus (Turdidae). Archived 2007-10-25 at the Wayback Machine" Auk 123(4): 1052-1068. DOI: 10.1642/0004-8038(2006)123[1052:SMSAMC]2.0.CO;2
Hachenberg, Andreas (2017). "Seltene Vogelarten in Baden-Württemberg 2015". Ornithologische Gesellschaft Baden-Württemberg. 33: 115–127.
Brazil, Mark (2009) Birds of East Asia ISBN 978-0-7136-7040-0 page 400 – 402
Ortiz-Ramírez, Marco F.; Andersen, Michael J.; Zaldívar-Riverón, Alejandro; Ornelas, Juan Francisco; Navarro-Sigüenza, Adolfo G. (2016-01-01). "Geographic isolation drives divergence of uncorrelated genetic and song variation in the Ruddy-capped Nightingale-Thrush (Catharus frantzii; Aves: Turdidae)". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 94 (Pt A): 74–86. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2015.08.017. ISSN 1055-7903. PMID 26302950.
Tenorio, Elkin A.; Londoño, Gustavo A. (2019-11-10). "Nesting biology of the Spotted Nightingale-Thrush (Catharus dryas) and comparison of life histories in the genus Catharus". Journal of Natural History. 53 (41–42): 2563–2578. doi:10.1080/00222933.2019.1708493. ISSN 0022-2933. S2CID 213438119.
Halley, Matthew R.; Klicka, John C.; Clee, Paul R. Sesink; Weckstein, Jason D. (2017-06-13). "Restoring the species status of Catharus maculatus (Aves: Turdidae), a secretive Andean thrush, with a critique of the yardstick approach to species delimitation". Zootaxa. 4276 (3): 387–404. doi:10.11646/zootaxa.4276.3.4. ISSN 1175-5334.
Phillips, Allan R. (1969). "An Ornithological Comedy of Errors: Catharus occidentalis and C. Frantzii". The Auk. 86 (4): 605–623. doi:10.2307/4083450. ISSN 0004-8038. JSTOR 4083450.
Ridgway, Robert (1907). "Ridgway's 'The Birds of North and Middle America,' Part IV". The Auk. 24 (4): 450–451. doi:10.2307/4070590. JSTOR 4070590.
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