Distribution

Asia is the center of evolution for babblers. With the exception of the unique picathartes, which DNA research suggests may not be babblers at all, but an ancient African lineage, most of the 33 African babblers appear to be derivative of large Asian genera. Only recently have several of them been removed from Asian genera, and placed in ones exclusive to Africa, such as 1lladopsis and Pseudoalcippe, while 15 are clearly members of Turdoides, widespread in the Indian subcontinent. Typical of the island, the six species in Madagascar, all endemic, have no connection to the African mainland.

China, where the Palearctic and Oriental zoogeographical realms meet, is a great center of distribution, and at least 143 (including four Taiwanese endemics) occur there, many nowhere else. Chinese babblers include 35 of the 49 species of laughing thrushes (Garrulax), 14 of the 16 fulvettas (Alcippe), and every one of the 19 parrotbills (Paradoxornithinae). Through Southeast Asia, there continues a great diversity of babblers, especially in Indochina, where several were only recently discovered. Fifty-five species have been recorded for Java, Sumatra, and Borneo, many of them endemic, or otherwise found only on the Malay Peninsula. While the "babblers" inhabiting Australia and New Guinea are no longer considered Timaliids, a few species occur in Wallacea, including the enigmatic malia (Malia grata), found only on Sulawesi, and remarkably, the fragile-looking pygmy wren-babbler (Pnoepyga pusilla), found all the way from Nepal to Timor. It is remarkable that Japan and Okinawa have no native babblers. On the other hand, 19 species occur in the Philippines, including 10 of the 24 species of Stachyris, and all but one are endemic. The Philippines and Timor are the western-most of the Pacific islands where babblers occur naturally. (Four Asian species have been successfully introduced in Hawaii.)

The Indian subcontinent, including Sri Lanka, is another babbler stronghold, and 131 species are recorded there. The majority are birds of the Himalayas, shared with China, but a number are endemic to Peninsular India or Sri Lanka. In the Middle East, babblers are represented by three species of Turdoides. Europe, including the United Kingdom, share the bearded reedling (Panurus biarmicus) with temperate Asia. Finally, on the Pacific Coast of North America is the wrentit (Chamaea fasciata).

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