The utility of islands as natural laboratories of evolution is exemplified in the patterns of differentiation in widespread, phenotypically variable lineages. The whistlers (Aves: Pachycephalidae) are one of the most complex avian radiations, with a combination of widespread and locally endemic taxa spanning the vast archipelagos of the Indo-Pacific, making them an ideal group to study patterns and processes of diversification on islands. Here, we present a robust, species-level phylogeny of all five genera and 85% of species within Pachycephalidae, based on thousands of ultraconserved elements (UCEs) generated with a target-capture approach and high-throughput sequencing. We clarify phylogenetic relationships within Pachycephala and report on divergence timing and ancestral range estimation. We explored multiple biogeographic coding schemes that incorporated geological uncertainty in this complex region. The biogeographic origin of this group was difficult to discern, likely owing to aspects of dynamic Earth history in the Indo-Pacific. The Australo-Papuan region was the likely origin of crown-group whistlers, but the specific ancestral area could not be identified more precisely than Australia or New Guinea, and Wallacea may have played a larger role than previously realized in the evolutionary history of whistlers. Multiple independent colonizations of island archipelagos across Melanesia, Wallacea, and the Philippines contributed to the relatively high species richness of extant whistlers. This work refines our understanding of one of the regions’ most celebrated bird lineages and adds to our growing knowledge about the patterns and processes of diversification in the Indo-Pacific.