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A songbird is a bird belonging to the clade Passeri of the perching birds Passeriformes. Another name that is sometimes seen as a scientific or vernacular name is Oscines, from Latin oscan, "a songbird". This group contains some 4,000 species found all over the world, in which the vocal organ typically is developed in such a way as to produce a diverse and elaborate bird song.
Songbirds form one of the two major lineages of extant perching birds, the other being the Tyranni which are most diverse in the Neotropics and absent from many parts of the world. These have a simpler syrinx musculature, and while their vocalizations are often just as complex and striking as those of songbirds, they are altogether more mechanical sounding. There is a third perching bird lineage, the Acanthisitta from New Zealand, of which only two species remain alive today.
There is evidence to suggest that songbirds evolved 50 million years ago in the part of Gondwana that later became Australia, New Zealand, New Guinea and Antarctica, before spreading around the world.
Sexual selection can be broken down into several different studies regarding different aspects of a bird’s song. As a result, song can vary even within a single species. Many believe that song repertoire and cognition have a direct relationship. However, a study published in 2013 has shown that all cognitive ability may not be directly related to the song repertoire of a songbird. Specifically, spatial learning is said to have an inverse relationship with song repertoire. So for example, this would be an individual who does not migrate as far as others in the species, but has a better song repertoire. This suggests an evolutionary trade-off between possible alleles. With natural selection choosing traits best fit for reproductive success there could be a trade off in either direction depending on which trait would produce a higher fitness at that time period.
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