Evolution and systematics

Traditional classifications place the family Campephagi-dae between the wagtails and pipits (Motacillidae) and the bulbuls (Pycnonotidae). Nine genera are recognized: cuckoo-shrikes (Pteropodocys, Coracina, Campochaera, Chlamydochaera, and Campephaga), trillers (Lalage), minivets (Pericrocotus), flycatcher-shrikes (Hemipus), and woodshrikes (Tephrodornis).

DNA-DNA hybridization studies have suggested that the cuckoo-shrikes' closest relatives are the Old World orioles (Oriolidae). In 1990 Sibley and Monroe included both groups in the tribe Oriolinae within the expanded family Corvidae. This revision has not gained general acceptance, and in 1994 Christidis and Boles retained Campephagidae and Oriolidae as separate families pending further study. Sibley and Monroe also placed the genus Tephrodornis in the Corvidae, subfamily Malaconotidae, and tribe Vangini (helmet-shrikes). This radical rearrangement requires further investigation.

While the genus Chlamydochaera is retained within the Campephagidae, it has the distinctive syrinx morphology of true thrushes (formerly Turdidae) and muscicapine flycatchers (now united in the subfamily Muscicapinae), while DNADNA hybridization studies also suggest a turdine relationship. Storrs Olson in 1987 described skeletal features that confirm the proper placement of Chlamydochaera in the Muscicapidae.

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