Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Wikipedia.
a family of birds of the order Passeriformes. The body is 16.5– cm long. The bill is conical, slender in some species, and massive and sometimes enlarged at the base in others. The tail is graduate, and the plumage black or brownish, sometimes with red or yellow patches. There are 88 species, distributed throughout North and South America. They inhabit deserts, prairies, swamps, and forests, biologically replacing skylarks, starlings, orioles, and other Old World birds. Many species are polygamous and form colonies. Their nests vary from small open ones on the ground to large (1.8 m long) “purses” in trees. The number of eggs in a clutch varies from two or three (in the tropics) to five or six; only the female sits on them. Some species are parasites, depositing their eggs in the nests of other birds. They feed on insects, seeds, nectar, and the juice of fruits, and certain species, for example, Icterus galbula, injure fruit trees.