[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index][Subject Index][Author Index]


Chris Lavers (sorry if I got the name wrong) asked about 
flightlessness in passerines, and Ron Orenstein writes..

> The only passerine regarded as possibly flightless was the Stephens 
> Island Rock Wren (Xenicus lyalli) of New Zealand, though a number of 
> passerines fly very seldom, if at all.  The Stephens Island bird 
> was, famously, discovered and exterminated about a century ago by 
> the lighthouse-keeper's cat.

I am reliably informed that there is uncertainty over whether or not 
_Xenicus_ was truly flightless, as Ron does note. Like other xenicids 
(or acanthisittids), it was probably capable of weak flight: the wing 
proportions of even the most robust-legged, terrestrial of xenicids 
(the extinct _Pachyplichas_... I don't think I've spelt the name 
correctly) indicate that even they were flighted.

However, two other cases of possible flightlessness in passerines are 
known. One is in tapaculos (rhinocrypturids): Feduccia (1996) 
suggests in his book that some of them may have been / may be 
flightless. The other is in a new taxon, currently in press. Can't 
say more in a public forum.

I don't have any ornithological texts to hand so please forgive 
etymological errors.

"Science will accept the view of the Dodo as a degenerate Dove rather 
than as an advanced Dinothere" - - Owen, 1875