Class: Aves Order: Passeriformes Family: Orthonychidae Number of species: 3 species
The three species of this family of Passeriformes, or perching birds, are very similar in appearance. The largest, the chow-chilla, is about 12 inches (30 centimeters) long. The two species of logrunners are only 7.3 to 8.4 inches (18.5 to 21 centimeters) long. They are stocky birds, with powerful legs and claws. Their specialized tails bear sharp spines on the stiff shafts of all ten tail feathers. This trait led this family of birds to also be called spine-tailed logrunners.
Male logrunners and chowchillas have white breasts, and females have reddish orange breasts. Chowchillas have unmarked black and white feathers. Logrunners, however, have patterns of brown, black, gray, white, and dull red.
Logrunners and chowchillas are found only in Australia and New Guinea. The southern logrunner is restricted to the eastern coastal forests of Australia. The chowchilla is found in northeastern Australia in the Atherton Tableland region above 1,475 feet (450 meters). The New Guinea logrunner occupies territory in the central highlands of New Guinea from 6,500 to 9,300 feet (1,980 to 2,840 meters). Some subspecies of the New Guinea logrunner live in regions as far up as 11,300 feet (3,450 meters) and in lower areas near 3,900 feet (1,200 meters).
Logrunners and chowchillas live on the litter-strewn floor of dense rainforests and wet sclerophyll (SKLARE-uh-fill) forests.
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Sderophyll forests have plants with hard leaves that have adapted, changed, to low levels of phosphorous, a chemical that encourages plant growth. Logrunners and chowchillas will move into nearby vegetation if it is dense enough. These adjacent territories may include non-native plants have been introduced into the wild.
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