|Savi's warbler (Locustella luscinioides)|
The grass warblers are small passerine birds belonging to the genus Locustella. Formerly placed in the paraphyletic "Old World warbler" assemblage, they are now considered the northernmost representatives of a largely Gondwanan family, the Locustellidae.
These are rather drab brownish "warblers" usually associated with fairly open grassland, shrubs or marshes. Some are streaked, others plain, all are difficult to view. They are insectivorous.
The most characteristic feature of this group is that the song of several species is a mechanical insect-like reeling which gives rise to the group's scientific name.
Species breeding in temperate regions are strongly migratory.
The genus Locustella was introduced by the German naturalist Johann Jakob Kaup in 1829 with the common grasshopper warbler (Locustella naevia) as the type species. The genus name Locustella is from Latin and is a diminutive of locusta, "grasshopper". Like the English name, this refers to the insect-like song of some species.
There are 20 species place in the genus:
- Lanceolated warbler, Locustella lanceolata
- Brown bush warbler, Locustella luteoventris
- Long-billed bush warbler, Locustella major
- Common grasshopper warbler, Locustella naevia
- Chinese bush warbler, Locustella tacsanowskia
- Bamboo warbler, Locustella alfredi
- River warbler Locustella fluviatilis
- Savi's warbler, Locustella luscinoides
- Friendly bush warbler, Locustella accentor
- Chestnut-backed bush warbler, Locustella castanea
- Long-tailed bush warbler, Locustella caudata
- Baikal bush warbler, Locustella davidi
- Spotted bush warbler, Locustella thoracica
- West Himalayan bush warbler, Locustella kashmirensis
- Taiwan bush warbler, Locustella alishanensis
- Russet bush warbler, Locustella mandelli
- Dalat bush warbler, Locustella idonea
- Benguet bush warbler, Locustella seebohmi
- Javan bush warbler, Locustella montis
- Sichuan bush warbler, Locustella chengi
This genus formerly included additional species. A molecular phylogenetic study of the grassbird family Locustellidae published in 2018 found that the genus Locustella consisted of two distinct clades. The genus was split and six species were moved to the newly erected genus Helopsaltes.
A fossil acrocoracoid from the Late Miocene (about 11 mya) of Rudabánya (NE Hungary) is quite similar to this bone in the present genus. Given its rather early age (most Passerida genera are not known until the Pliocene), it is not too certain that it is correctly placed here, but it is highly likely to belong to the Locustellidae, or the Sylvioidea at the least. As the grasshopper warblers are the only known locustellid warblers from Europe, it is still fairly likely that the bone piece belongs to a basal Locustella.
- Kaup, Johann Jakob (1829). Skizzirte Entwickelungs-Geschichte und Naturliches System der Europaischen Thierwelt (in German). Volume 1. Darmstadt: Carl Wilhelm Leske. p. 115.
- Mayr, Ernst; Cottrell, G. William, eds. (1986). Check-list of Birds of the World. Volume 11. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Museum of Comparative Zoology. p. 50.
- Jobling, James A (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. p. 229. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.
- "Grasshopper". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
- Gill, Frank; Donsker, David, eds. (2019). "Grassbirds, Donacobius, Malagasy warblers, cisticolas, allies". IOC World Bird List Version 9.2. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
- Alström, P.; Cibois, A.; Irestedt, M.; Zuccon, D.; Gelang, M.; Fjeldså, J.; Andersen, M.J.; Moyle, R.G.; Pasquet, E.; Olsson, U. (2018). "Comprehensive molecular phylogeny of the grassbirds and allies (Locustellidae) reveals extensive non-monophyly of traditional genera, and a proposal for a new classification". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 127: 367–375. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2018.03.029.
- Bernor, R.L.; Kordos, L. & Rook, L. (eds):"Recent Advances on Multidisciplinary Research at Rudabánya, Late Miocene (MN9), Hungary: A compendium Archived 2007-06-28 at the Wayback Machine". Paleontographica Italiana 89: 3-36.
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