Evolution and systematics

The titmice and chickadees are oscine passerines (perching birds). The oscines are divided into two parvorders: Corvida and Passerida. The Passerida are further divided into three superfamilies, including the Sylvioidea, to which tits belong, along with swallows, bulbuls, warblers, and babblers. The titmice and chickadees are usually considered to be a subfamily (Parinae) of the Paridae, the latter also containing the Remizinae, or penduline tits. Genetic evidence suggests that the two groups of tits are closely related, but behavioral differences mean that some authors still treat them as separate families in their own right: the Paridae and Remizidae. The Aegithalidae, or long-tailed tits, are also sometimes included within the Paridae, although genetic comparisons have shown that they are best treated as a distinct family.

The Parinae is divided into five genera: Parus, the largest group, including most of the tits; Poecile, including the 12-15 species of black- and brown-capped tits and chickadees (sometimes treated as a subgenus of Parus); Baeolophus, the five species of American tufted titmice; and two monospecific genera, Sylviparus and Melanochlora. (Although Peters only recognizes four genera: Parus, Baeolophus, Sylviparus, and Melanochlora).

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