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Phainopepla (Phainopepla nitens)
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Parvorder: Muscicapida
Superfamily: Bombycilloidea
Alström et al., 2014[1]

Bombycilloidea is a superfamily of passerine birds that contains ten living species. They are found in North, Central America, most of the Palearctic, the Arabian Peninsula, the islands of Hispaniola and Sulawesi, and formerly the Hawaiian Islands.[2][3]


The superfamily includes only ten extant species.[4] It is sister to a clade containing Muscicapoidea, Certhoidea and Regulidae (both clades are contained within the parvorder Muscicapida),[5] from which it diverged during the mid-late Oligocene, about 25 million years ago. The common ancestor for both clades lived in Eurasia; at some point, the ancestral Bombycilloidea arrived in North America where they rapidly radiated into multiple families. One of these lineages moved back into Eurasia, where it gave rise to several lineages that stayed in Eurasia or colonized Wallacea or Hawaii.[2]

Two families, the waxwings (Bombycillidae) and silky-flycatchers (Ptiliogonatidae) contain several species and are widespread throughout the Holarctic and North America respectively, but the others are monotypic (the hypocolius in Hypocoliidae), are restricted to a few islands (the extinct Hawaiian honeyeaters in Mohoidae), or both (the palmchat in Dulidae and the hylocitrea in Hylocitreidae).[2]

The most basal extant family in Bombycilloidea is Dulidae, and the most derived are the Hypocoliidae and Mohoidae. Mohoidae is also notable for being the only known avian family to have gone extinct in recent times, with the last species, the Kauaʻi ʻōʻō (Moho braccatus) going extinct in 1987.[2]

The cladogram of the bombycilloids shown below is based on the analysis of Carl Oliveros and colleagues published in 2019.[2]


Dulidae – palmchat

Bombycillidae – waxwings

Ptiliogonatidae – silky-flycatchers

Hylocitreidae – hylocitrea

Hypocoliidae – hypocolius

Mohoidae – Hawaiian honeyeaters


  1. ^ Alström, P.; Hooper, D.M.; Liu, Y.; Olsson, U.; Mohan, D.; Gelang, M.; Le Manh, H.; Zhao, J.; Lei, F.; Price, T.D. (2014). "Discovery of a relict lineage and monotypic family of passerine birds". Biology Letters. 10 (3): 20131067. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2013.1067. PMC 3982435. PMID 24598108.
  2. ^ a b c d e Oliveros, C.H.; et al. (2019). "Earth history and the passerine superradiation". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States. 116 (16): 7916–7925. doi:10.1073/pnas.1813206116. PMC 6475423. PMID 30936315.
  3. ^ "TiF Checklist: REGULOIDEA and BOMBYCILLOIDEA". Retrieved 2021-04-19.
  4. ^ Gill, Frank; Donsker, David; Rasmussen, Pamela, eds. (January 2021). "Waxwings and allies, tits, penduline tits". IOC World Bird List Version 11.1. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 6 June 2021.
  5. ^ "Avibase - The World Bird Database". Retrieved 2021-04-19.
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