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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: Passeroidea

Familia: Estrildidae
Genus: Taeniopygia
Species: T. bichenovii - T. guttata
Taeniopygia Reichenbach, 1862

The zebra finches are two species of estrildid finch in the genus Taeniopygia found in Australia and Indonesia. They are seed-eaters that travel in large flocks.

The species are:

Image Scientific name Common Name Distribution
2014-08-19 Zebra Finch, Sumba, Nusa Tenggara Timur, Indonesia 1.jpg Taeniopygia guttata Sunda zebra finch Lesser Sunda Islands of Indonesia, from Lombok to Timor
Australian zebra finch Chestnut-eared Finch (Taeniopygia castanotis) pair.jpg Taeniopygia castanotis Australian zebra finch Arid regions of Australia aside from the Cape York Peninsula in northeast Queensland

Previously, both species were classified as a single species, the zebra finch (T. guttata). However, they were split by the IUCN Red List and BirdLife International in 2016. The International Ornithological Congress followed suit in 2022 based on studies noting differences in plumage, mtDNA divergence, and assortative mating between both species in captivity.[1][2]

The zebra finch was first captured in 1801 during Nicolas Baudin's expedition to Australia. The Indonesian species was described in 1817 by Louis Jean Pierre Vieillot in his Nouveau Dictionnaire d'Histoire Naturelle, where he gave it the scientific name Fringilla guttata. The Australian species was then described in 1837 by John Gould as Amadina castanotis.[3] Its current genus, Taeniopygia, was described in 1862 by Ludwig Reichenbach.[4] It is placed in the tribe Poephilini,[5] along with the genus Poephila, which it was previously included in;[6] the split between Taeniopygia and Poephila is justified by a 1987 study using protein electrophoresis and chromosomal banding.[7]

The zebra finches likely evolved in Australia, with either northern or southeastern Australia postulated as two places where the genus arose. The present-day distribution of the species T. guttata is likely due to a Pleistocene glaciation event where the sea level dropped between about 100 and 150 metres (330 and 490 ft), putting the coasts of Timor and Australia closer. This allowed T. castanotis swept out to sea by cyclones to see mountains near the west coast of Timor, which prompted them to make landfall on the island.[8]

The morphological differences between the species include differences in size. T. guttata is smaller than T. castanotis. In addition, the T. guttata males do not have the fine barring found on the throat and upper breast and have smaller breast bands.[9]

Although the Sunda zebra finch was described first, the Australian zebra finch is the far more famous member of the genus, due to its status as a popular pet as well as a model organism for the wider study of birds.[10]

Zebra finches are more social than many migratory birds, generally traveling in small bands and sometimes gathering in larger groups.[11] They are one of the bird species that is able to learn new vocalizations and have became a dominant model species in the study of vocal learning.[12] There is evidence that some aspects of this are culturally transmitted and that the songs of geographically distant populations can change over time, resulting in new dialects. Research also shows that zebra finches hear and respond to variations in bird song that are not apparent to human listeners. Researchers are exploring analogies between human language and birdsong.[11][12]


IOC World Bird List Datasets 2022.
Olsson & Alström 2020, p. 106757.
Zann 1996, pp. xiii–xiv.
Reichenbach 1862, p. 26.
Zann 1996, p. 5.
Christidis 1987a, pp. 380–392.
Christidis 1987b, pp. 119–123.
Zann 1996, pp. 9–10.
Payne 2018.
Mello 2014, pp. 1237–1242.
Mason 2022.

Hyland Bruno et al. 2021, pp. 449–472.


Christidis, L. (1987a). "Biochemical systematics within palaeotropic finches (Aves: Estrildidae)". The Auk. 104 (3): 380–392. doi:10.2307/4087534. ISSN 0004-8038. JSTOR 4087534.
Christidis, L. (1987b). "Phylogeny and Systematics of Estrildine Finches and Their Relationships to Other Seed-eating Passerines". Emu – Austral Ornithology. 87 (2): 119–123. doi:10.1071/MU9870119. ISSN 0158-4197.
Gill, F; Donsker, D, eds. (20 January 2022). "IOC World Bird List 12.1". IOC World Bird List Datasets. doi:10.14344/ S2CID 246050277.
Hyland Bruno, Julia; Jarvis, Erich D.; Liberman, Mark; Tchernichovski, Ofer (14 January 2021). "Birdsong Learning and Culture: Analogies with Human Spoken Language". Annual Review of Linguistics. 7 (1): 449–472. doi:10.1146/annurev-linguistics-090420-121034. ISSN 2333-9683.
Mason, Betsy (15 February 2022). "Do birds have language? It depends on how you define it". Knowable Magazine. Annual Reviews. doi:10.1146/knowable-021522-1.
Mello, Claudio V. (2014-10-23). "The Zebra Finch, Taeniopygia guttata: An Avian Model for Investigating the Neurobiological Basis of Vocal Learning". Cold Spring Harbor Protocols. 2014 (12): 1237–1242. doi:10.1101/pdb.emo084574. ISSN 1940-3402. PMC 4571486. PMID 25342070.
Olsson, Urban; Alström, Per (2020-05-01). "A comprehensive phylogeny and taxonomic evaluation of the waxbills (Aves: Estrildidae)". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 146: 106757. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2020.106757. ISSN 1055-7903. PMID 32028027. S2CID 211048731.
Payne, R. (2018). del Hoyo, Josep; Elliott, Andrew; Sargatal, Jordi; Christie, David A.; de Juana, Eduardo (eds.). "Timor Zebra Finch (Taeniopygia guttata)". Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Barcelona, Spain: Lynx Edicions. Retrieved 5 August 2018.
Reichenbach, H. G. Ludwig (1862). Die Singvögel als Fortsetzung der vollständigsten Naturgeschichte und zugleich als Central-Atlas für zoologische Gärten und für Thierfreunde (in German). Dresden and Leipzig. p. 26 – via BHL.
Zann, Richard A. (1996). The Zebra Finch: A Synthesis of Field and Laboratory Studies. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-854079-3.

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