Perching Birds

What are perching birds?

A malachite kingfisher

Perching birds are classified as 'Passeriformes', or passerines. The name means 'sparrow-shaped' and are also known as songbirds.

Perching birds make up the largest order of birds in the world. There are 59 families and about 5,100 species, which means perching birds are about 60% of all living birds. It includes birds such as the sparrow, titmouse, cuckoos, kingfishers, crows, magpies, mockingbirds and parrots.

Perching birds range in size all the way from tiny kinglets and warblers to the magnificent raven. Passerines are believed to be the most advanced of all birds, as well as the most adaptive and intelligent. They all share the same type of foot, with three toes pointed forward and one backward. This foot is adapted to gripping a perch. The muscles and tendons of their legs are designed to tighten the grip on the perch if the bird begins to fall backward.