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Oreoicidae – Australo-Papuan Bellbirds

Rufous-naped Bellbird in Papua New Guinea: Photo by Thierry Nogaro

The Australo-Papuan bellbirds, belonging to the family Oreoicidae, are found in forest and woodland habitats across Australia and New Guinea. This family, consisting of three species, is known for its loud, bell-like calls.

Overview of Oreoicidae

A more fitting moniker for these avians might be “earthly bellbirds,” as they are mid-sized songbirds frequently spotted on the ground. Their melodic tunes consist of repeating syllables and resonant whistles, interspersed with delicate, high-pitched twittering notes. The rhythmic nature of their songs led to alternative descriptive names for one species, the Crested Bellbird: indigenous Australians refer to it as “panpanpanella,” while early European settlers dubbed it “dick-dick-the-devil.” Although these birds were previously classified under Pachycephalidae, recent molecular analyses have unanimously concluded that they form a distinct clade, indicating that they are each other’s closest relatives and warrant recognition as a separate family.