Fine Art

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: Tyranni
Infraordo: Eurylaimides
Superfamilia: Eurylaimoidea

Familia: Eurylaimidae
Genus: Smithornis
Species: S. capensis - S. rufolateralis - S. sharpei

Smithornis Bonaparte, 1850
Conspectus generum avium 1 p. 322

Smithornis is a genus of birds in the family Calyptomenidae, the broadbills. The genus comprises three species native to Africa.

Before 1914 this genus was classified in the Old World flycatcher family, Muscicapidae, due to certain similarities.[2][3] Closer examination of the morphology and anatomical features of these birds resulted in their being reclassified in the Eurylaimidae.

It is hypothesized that Smithornis is a monophyletic genus, well separated from other birds in the Eurylaimidae. The differentiation occurred as a result of a division and diversification between Asian and African broadbills.[3]


Image Scientific name Common name Distribution
African broadbill, Smithornis capensis, at uMkhuze Game Reserve, kwaZulu-Natal, South Africa (15394526412).jpg Smithornis capensis African broadbill coastal West Africa from Sierra Leone in the west eastwards to the Central African Republic and south to Gabon and the northern Congo
Rufous-sided Broadbill - Kakum NP - Ghana 14 S4E1870 (16011497450).jpg Smithornis rufolateralis Rufous-sided broadbill Sub-Saharan Africa.
Smithornis sharpei Grey-headed broadbill Cameroon, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and Nigeria.


Smithornis: Sir Andrew Smith (1797–1872), Scottish surgeon, zoologist, ethnologist, explorer in South Africa; Greek: ορνις ornis, ορνιθος ornithos “bird”[4]

The species in genus Smithornis lack the vocal ability that many other birds possess. This is due to the muscular anatomy of the main vocal organ, the syrinx. The muscle A1 is widened into a hammer shape and A2 is seen to be oblique.[3] They lack a pessulus, which divides the tympaniform membranes and produces a song in other species of birds. They also lack intrinsic syringeal muscles which contract to change the song.[5]

Smithornis are known for the rare ability to make sound with their wings. The typical behavior includes a short circular flight off of the perch and back on again, the vibration of the wings producing the sound.[6] This behavior is commonly seen in the early morning and late evening. The behavior may be related to courtship; the male produces the sound while flashing a white patch on its back when females are present.[6][7] The sound is made by all species of Smithornis; in S. capensis both sexes perform the behavior, but in S. rufolateralis only the male does so.[2]

One observation involved two individual S. capensis in which one individual flicked its wings, making the sound, while another was close by. They then alternated, taking turns performing the behavior. The behavior did not seem to be aggressive and was thought to be a courtship display.[8]

It was previously assumed that the sound was produced by the long outer 9th and 10th major covert feathers. A recent study tested the assumption by using high-speed video and audio recordings, which indicated that coverts 6 and 7 were actually producing the sound.[7]


Bonaparte, Ch.L. (1850). Conspectus generum avium (in Latin). Vol. 1. Lugduni Batavorum: E.J. Brill. p. 322.
Chapin, J. P. The Birds of the Belgian Congo: Part 3. Vol. 75A. New York: Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, 1953. Print.
Prum, R. O. (1993). Phylogeny, biogeography, and evolution of the broadbills (Eurylaimidae) and asities (Philepittidae) based on morphology. The Auk 110(2) 304-24.
Jobling, J.A. (2017). "Key to Scientific Names in Ornithology". In del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J.; Christie, D.A.; de Juana, E. (2018) (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions.
Greenewalt, C. H. Bird Song: Acoustics and Physiology. Washington: Smithsonian Institution, 1968. Print.
Bates, G. L. (1914). Some facts bearing on the affinities of Smithornis. Ibis 56(3) 495-502.
Clark, C. J., et al. (2016). Smithornis broadbills produce loud wing song by aeroelastic flutter of medial primary wing feathers. Journal of Experimental Biology 219(7) 1069-75.
Lawson, W. J. (1961). Probable courtship behaviour of the broadbill Smithornis capensis. Ibis 103 289-90.

Birds, Fine Art Prints

Birds Images

Biology Encyclopedia

Retrieved from ""
All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

Home - Hellenica World