name = Piciformes

image_width = 240px
image_caption = Male Red-bellied Woodpecker,
("Melanerpes carolinus")
regnum = Animalia
phylum = Chordata
classis = Aves
subclassis = Neornithes
infraclassis = Neognathae
superordo = Neoaves
ordo = Piciformes
ordo_authority = Meyer & Wolf, 1810
subdivision_ranks = Suborders and families
subdivision =
*SemnornithidaeFor prehistoric taxa, see text
synonyms =Galbuliformes

Six families of largely arboreal birds make up the order Piciformes, the best-known of them being the Picidae, which includes the woodpeckers and close relatives. The Piciformes contain about 67 living genera with a little over 400 species, of which the Picidae (woodpeckers and relatives) make up about half.

In general, the Piciformes are insectivorous, although the barbets and toucans mostly eat fruit and the honeyguides are quite unique among birds in being able to digest beeswax (their main foods is insects however). Nearly all Piciformes have parrot-like zygodactyl feet - two toes forward and two back, an arrangement that has obvious advantages for birds that spend much of their time on tree trunks. An exception are a few species of three-toed woodpeckers. The jacamars aside, Piciformes do not have down feathers at any age, only true feathers. They range in size from the Rufous Piculet at 8 centimetres in length, and weighing 7 grams, to the Black-mandibled Toucan, at 61 centimetres long, and weighing 500 gramscite book |editor=Forshaw, Joseph|author=Short, Lester L.|year=1991|title=Encyclopaedia of Animals: Birds|publisher=Merehurst Press|location=London|pages=152-157|isbn=1-85391-186-0] . All nest in cavities and have altricial young.

ystematics and evolution

The Galbulidae and Bucconidae are often separated into a distinct Galbuliformes order. Analysis of nuclear genesFact|date=January 2008 confirms that they form a lineage of their own, but suggests that they are better treated as a suborder. The other families form another monophyletic group of suborder rank, but the barbets were determined to be paraphyletic with regard to the toucans Fact|date=January 2008 and hence, the formerly all-encompassing Capitonidae have been split up. The woodpeckers and honeyguides are each other's closest relatives [Johansson & Ericson (2003)]

Reconstruction of the evolutionary history of the Piciformes has been hampered by poor understanding of the evolution of the zygodactyl foot. A number of prehistoric families and genera, from the Early Eocene "Neanis" and "Hassiavis", the Zygodactylidae, Primoscenidae and "Homalopus" [Described in 1870, its name is preoccupied by a subgenus of "Cryptocephalus" leaf beetles described in 1835.] , to the Miocene "Picus" gaudryi" and the Pliocene "Bathoceleus" are sometimes tentatively assigned to this order [Cracraft & Morony (1969)] . There are some extinct ancestral piciforms are known from fossils which have been notoriously difficult to place but at least in part probably belong to the Pici. The modern families are known to exist since the mid-late Oligo- to Early Miocene; consequently, the older forms appear to be more basal. It is interesting to note that a large part of piciform evolution seems to have occurred in Europe where only Picidae occur today; perhaps even some now exclusively Neotropical families have their origin in the Old World.


* Unassigned (all fossil)
** Piciformes gen. et sp. indet. IRScNB Av 65 (Early Oligocene of Boutersem, Belgium)
** Piciformes gen. et sp. indet. SMF Av 429 (Late Oligocene of Herrlingen, Germany)
* Suborder Galbulae
** Family: Galbulidae - jacamars (18 species)
** Family: Bucconidae - puffbirds, nunbirds and nunlets (some 30 species)
* Suborder Pici
** Unresolved and basal taxa (all fossil)
*** Genus: "Rupelramphastoides" (Early Oligocene of Frauenweiler, Germany) [ramphastid?]
*** Genus: "Capitonides" (Early - Middle Miocene of Europe) [ramphastid? "capitonid" (Lybiidae, Megalaimidae)? own family Capitonididae?]
*** Pici gen. et sp. indet. (Middle Miocene of Give-Saint-Alban, France) ["capitonid" (Lybiidae, Megalaimidae)?] ["CMC 152", a distal carpometacarpus; more similar to extant barbets than to "Capitonides": Ballmann (1969)]
** Family: Lybiidae - African barbets (about 40 species, recently split form Capitonidae)
** Family: Megalaimidae - Asian barbets (about 25 species, recently split form Capitonidae)
** Family: Ramphastidae - toucans (about 40 species)
** Family: Semnornithidae - toucan-barbets (2 species, recently split form Capitonidae)
** Family: Capitonidae - American barbets (about 15 species)
** Family: Miopiconidae (fossil)
** Family: Picidae - woodpeckers, piculets and wrynecks (over 200 species)
** Family: Indicatoridae - honeyguides (17 species)



* (1969): Les Oiseaux miocènes de la Grive-Saint-Alban (Isère) [The Miocene birds of Grive-Saint-Alban (Isère)] . "Geobios" 2: 157-204. [French with English abstract] doi|10.1016/S0016-6995(69)80005-7 (HTML abstract)
* (1969): A new Pliocene woodpecker, with comments on the fossil Picidae. "American Museum Novitates" 2400: 1-8. [http://digitallibrary.amnh.org/dspace/bitstream/2246/2610/1/N2400.pdf PDF fulltext]
* (2003): Molecular support for a sister group relationship between Pici and Galbulae (Piciformes sensu Wetmore 1960). "J. Avian Biol." 34(2): 185–197. doi|10.1034/j.1600-048X.2003.03103.x [http://www.nrm.se/download/18.4e32c81078a8d9249800021325/Johansson%2520&%2520Ericson%2520-%2520Piciformes%5B1%5D.pdf PDF fulltext]

External Links

* [http://tolweb.org/Piciformes/26411 Tree of Life Piciformes]

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