A passerine is any bird of the order Passeriformes, which includes more than half of all bird species. Sometimes known as perching birds or — less accurately — as songbirds, passerines are distinguished from other orders of birds by the arrangement of their toes (three pointing forward and one back), which facilitates perching. With more than 110 families and some 6,409 identified species, Passeriformes is the largest order of birds and among the most diverse orders of terrestrial vertebrates. The passerines contain several groups of brood parasites such as the viduas, cuckoo-finches, and the cowbirds. Most passerines are omnivorous, while the shrikes are carnivorous. The terms "passerine" and "Passeriformes" are derived from Passer domesticus, the scientific name of the eponymous species (the house sparrow) and ultimately from the Latin term passer, which refers to sparrows and similar small birds.
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