Bird Taxonomy and Photo Album Collections
There are about 10,000 known species and 22,000 subspecies of birds in the world, and to-date I have only photographed about 550 species. However, taking sexual dimorphism, different subspecies, age, habitat, and behaviour into account, I have significantly more images of interest.
Aves (Bird) Taxonomy
Choosing one of the many bird taxonomies and associated checklist to follow depends in part on aims, location of the authority and personal requirements. The four primary Check Lists (CL) for Aves Order are HBW & Birdlife, Clements, Howard & Moore, and IOC World Bird Names. There are others, such as Sibley & Monroe.
Recent studies using the modern approach to avian taxonomy using DNA sequences and analytical methods have shown that traditional taxonomy is dated. Proposed taxonomic changes are frequent with only some of the less controversial ones accepted by all authorities and often not agreed by all. For high-level taxonomy, I follow J Boyd’s Taxonomy in Flux Checklist.
Initially, I decided to follow the HBW and BirdLife checklist and use HBW Alive and My Birding as my primary reference resource and to record my bird sightings. However, the Handbook of the Birds of the World (HBW Alive) online rights have been acquired by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology from Lynx Edicions and have withdrawn ‘my birding sightings’ facility. The new online resource, Birds of the World, went live in early March 2020. It uses Clements checklist, but it is not-integrated with eBird for recording sightings. I’m not a fan of eBird for recording sightings, and Clements is too American-centric. I’m also still waiting for eBird to import my HBW Alive sightings list that should have happened under transfer of HBW Alive from Lynx to Cornell Labs.
My new approach for recording first sightings is to use a bespoke database linked to my published photograph database. For subsequent sightings, I rely on photos and dates in my Adobe Lightroom catalogue. For genus and species, I now follow the IOC World Bird Names Check List except where there is a more appropriate regional checklist. For example, for my Australian bird sightings, I use the IOC CL for scientific names and Birdlife Australia for common bird names.
Photo Album Collections
I’ve arranged the photo albums collections into two Groups.
The first album group displays non-passerine birds arranged in evolutionary history order and habitat:
(b) Waterbirds (including waders),
(c) Seabirds (including pelagic),
(d) Core Waterbirds,
(e) Core Landbirds.
The second album group features Passeriformes Order (Passerines), which is the most recent bird clade in evolutionary history with about half the known bird species:
(a) Basal Oscines and Acanthisitti,
(c) Passerida I and II,
(d) Tyranni (Suboscines).
For each collection of photo albums, a webpage introduces them and provides hypertext links to second level webpages that display image galleries of relevant bird families. The galleries feature portraits of each species that I’ve photographed. Also, an additional gallery highlights behavioural or environmental themes, such as nesting, hunting, feeding, habitat, action, and my favourite images.
Non-passerines refer to the other 50% or so of bird species, placed in separate Avian orders. Authorities disagree as to the number of species and their placement in families and orders.
Traditional taxonomy recognises around 35 orders and 105 families of non-passerine although this is subject to change. J Boyd’s Taxonomy in Flux Checklist, 3.08 lists 46 orders, including Passeriformes with 248 families. I have adopted most high-order taxonomic changes to the Aves orders given in the Taxonomy in Flux Checklist, especially when there is broad agreement with those specified in the IOC World Bird List, Order of Birds, Draft June 2019. IOC Order of Birds currently lists 40 orders, including Passeriformes.
The species list in both passerines and non-passerine is constant, give or take a hundred or so. But their placement in families and orders is ever-changing as is sub-species, common names and with the discovery of new species and subspecies.
Oscines distribution has a worldwide with about 40% of known species. Often but less accurately called songbirds, these birds have highly developed voice boxes. Suboscines has about 10% of known species; these have simple voice boxes with a pan-tropical distribution. And New Zealand Wrens has four known species.
Passerines or perching birds, so-called because of their toe arrangement, three toes forward and one backward allowing them to grip a perch. They are vocal, small to medium size, brightly coloured birds that need to care for their chicks before they can fledge.
High-level Classification and Photo Album Collections
The figure shows a simplified family tree that illustrates the arrangement of high-level bird clades and orders relevant to the non-passerine photo album collections. The tree hierarchy is a time-ordered evolutionary history based on the Taxonomy in Flux Checklist. I have however transposed Charadriiformes and Ardeae to agrees with the ‘revised order of birds’ published in IOC World Bird List.
The four orders in the Australaves clade, include Passeriformes, the largest and most diverse group containing about half the know bird species. A second family tree, shown below, depicts the high-level taxonomic grouping for Passeriformes.
The following gives a brief taxonomy introduction to each photo album collection together with pictorial hypertext links to the albums.
(1) Landbirds and Waterfowl Photo Album
These album collections feature the oldest in the time-ordered evolutionary history birds.
Galloanserae comprises sister groups Galliformes (Landfowl) and Anseriformes (Waterfowl), the latter features in the Waterbirds Album.
Palaeognathae contain five bird orders including Flightless Landbirds which have primitive skull morphology, such as the family of Casuariiformes (emu and cassowaries) together with weak flying lanbirds, the Tinamiformes.
Neognathae clade contains all the remaining birds subdivided into:
(a) Galloanserae containing Galliformes (Landfowl) and sister Anseriformes (Waterfowl),
(b) Neoaves has 95% of all known birds.
Neoaves comprises the following three clades:
(a) Columbimorphae which has three orders, including Columbiformes (Pigeons and Doves),
(b) Otidimorphae has three orders featuring Cuculiformes (Cuckoos),
(c) Strisores has five orders, including Caprimulgiformes (Nightjars), Steatornithiformes* (Oilbird), Nyctibiiformes* (Potoos), Podargiformes* (Frogmouths) and Apodiformes (Owlet-Nightjars, Swifts and Hummingbirds). Taxonomy in Flux Checklist introduces the three orders marked with an asterisk (*). In the IOC Order of Birds, they remain members of the Caprimulgiformes (Nightjars) order in superorder Caprimulgimorphae.
(2) Waterbirds, Seabirds, and Core Waterbirds Photo Albums
This album group comprises three photo album collections: Waterbirds, Seabirds and Core Waterbirds. The waterbirds families listed in the Ramsar Convention also aids the organisation of these photo album collections. The convention lists the species of birds that are “ecologically dependent upon wetlands” and takes a whole-taxon approach in defining these waterbird families. This holistic approach results in the inclusion of a few non-wetland species such as some seabirds and stone curlews. I’ve used the Taxonomy Checklist to map the Ramsar Convention waterbirds listed onto the three photo album collections and to resolve some non-wetland bird inconsistencies.
Mirandornithes contains two orders Podicipediformes (Grebes), and Phoenicopteriformes (Flamingos), these feature in Waterbirds.
Gruiformes order comprises several families including Rails, Coots and Cranes (Rallidae) displayed in Waterbirds.
Charadriiformes is a large order subdivided into suborders. Four of five suborders and eight of twenty families feature in the Waterbirds and Seabirds. Featured clades include Waders (Shorebirds), and Gulls feature in Waterbirds and Alcids (Auks) in Seabirds. I’ve deviated from Taxonomy in Flux Checklist to follow the evolutionary order given in IOC Order of Birds as it is a better fit for photo album organisation.
Ardeae comprises two clades:
(a) Eurypygimorphae with two orders including Phaethontiformes (Tropicbirds) displayed in Seabirds Photo Album. IOC World Bird Names Order of Birds referenced sources place tropicbirds in Phaethontimorphae.
(b) Aequornithes has eight orders, seven of which feature in the albums. Displayed in Core Waterbirds are Pelecaniformes (Pelicans), Ardeiformes* (Herons), Ciconiiformes (Storks) and Plataleiformes* (Ibises) orders. Suliformes (Boobies and Cormorants) is split with Cormorants into Core Waterbirds and Boobies into Seabirds. Seabirds also display Sphenisciformes (Penguins) and Procellariiformes (Tubenoses). Taxonomy in Flux Checklist introduces the two new orders marked with an asterisk (*). In the IOC Order of Birds, they remain as members of the Pelecaniformes (Pelicans).http://wpe.wetlands.org/Iwhatrwb
(3) Core Landbirds and Passeriformes Album Collections
The final album collection contains Core Landbirds and Passeriformes collections.
Telluraves, also known as core lanbirds, account for 75% of all birds in two clades:
(a) Afroaves contains nine orders arranged in three groups:
(i) Accipitrimorphae includes Cathartiformes* (New World Vultures) and Accipitriformes (Hawks) displayed in Core Landbirds Photo Album. The order marked with an asterisk (*) has been introduced in Taxonomy in Flux Checklist and not elevated to new order status by IOC Order of Birds; they remain as members of the Accipitriformes (Hawks) order.
(ii) Strigiformes (Owls) Order, also shown in Core Landbirds.
(iii) Picimorphae includes Trogoniformes (Trogons), Coraciiformes (Bee-eaters, Kingfishers, Rollers), Bucerotiformes (Hornbills), and Piciformes (Woodpeckers) which feature in Core Landbirds.
(b) Australaves comprises four orders including Falconiformes (Falcons) and Psittaciformes (Parrots) featured in Core Landbirds. Australaves also includes Passeriformes (Suboscines, Oscines and Acanthisitti) displayed in five Photo Albums, see Passeriformes Order of Birds below.
Passeriformes Order of Birds
The figure shows a simplified taxonomy family tree that illustrates the arrangement of suborders and parvorders as described in Taxonomy in Flux Checklist as applicable to Passeriformes photo album collections.
Passeriformes splits into three suborders: Acanthisitti (New Zealand Wrens), Tyranni (Suboscines) and Passeri (Oscines). Then Passeri splits into four Basal Oscine parvorders before Corvida and Passerida.
Five Passeriformes photo albums feature:
(1) Basal Oscines and Acanthisitti which contain an Acanthisitti gallery and three parvorders; Meliphagida, Orthonychida and Climacterida albums.
(2) Corvida Photo Albums display families from three parvorder groups; Corvoidea, Orioloidea & Mohouoidae, and Malaconotoidea & Campephagoidae.
(3) Passerida splits into two album collections:
(i) Basal Passerida with three superfamilies; Paroidea, Sylvioidea, Muscicapoidea & Allies,
(ii) Basal Passeroidea and Core Passeroidea superfamilies.
(4) Tyranni (Suboscines) suborder photo album features Old and New World Suboscines.
References: Online Resources
- Birds of the World. [Online] Available from https://birdsoftheworld.org [Accessed 5-Mar-20].
- Cornell Lab of Ornithology. [Online] Available from https://www.birds.cornell.edu/home/ [Accessed 15-Nov-18].
- BirdLife International (2016). Nature conservation Partnership. [Online] Available from //www.birdlife.org/ [Accessed 07-Dec-20].
- The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. [Online] Available from: https://www.iucnredlist.org/ [Accessed07-Dec-20].
- Boyd, J (No date). Taxonomy in Flux Checklist. V3.08. [Online] Available from: http://jboyd.net/Taxo/List.html [Accessed 15-Sep-18].
- Gill, F & Donsker, D (Editors) (2016). IOC World Bird List (v 8.2). [Online] Available from: https://www.worldbirdnames.org/new/ [Accessed 07-Dec-20]. DOI: 10.14344/IOC.ML.6.2.
- Gill, F & D Donsker (Editors) (2019). IOC World Bird List, Order of Birds, Draft, June 28, 2019. [Online] Available from: https://www.worldbirdnames.org/classification/orders-of-birds-draft/ [Accessed 07-Dec-20].
- Wetlands International (2019). “Waterbird Population Estimates”. Available from http://wetlands.org [Accessed 8-Aug-19]. Wetlands International, Ramsar Convention webpage: http://wpe.wetlands.org/Iwhatrwb
Bibliography: Online Resources
1. Avibase the world bird database (2020). Avibase is an extensive database information system about all birds of the world. [Online] Available from: https://avibase.bsc-eoc.org/avibase.jsp Accessed 08-Sep-20.
2. Birdforum dedicated to wild birds and birding. [Online] Available from https://www.birdforum.net [Accessed 07-Dec-20].
3. Heron Conservation The IUCN-SCC Heron Specialist Group. [Online] Available from: //www.heronconservation.org [Accessed 107-Dec-20].
4. iNaturalist.org. [Online] Available from: //www.inaturalist.org. [Accessed 07-Dec-20].
5. The Internet Bird Collection + The Macaulay Library. [Online] Available from https://www.macaulaylibrary.org/the-internet-bird-collection-the-macaulay-library/ [Accessed 12-Jun-20].
6. Oriental Bird Images A database of the Oriental Bird Club. [Online] Available from: http://orientalbirdimages.org/ [Accessed 17-Sep-18].
7. Singapore Birds Project (No Date). [Online] Available from: https://singaporebirds.com/ [Accessed 07-Dec-20].
8. Oiseaux Birds. Bird resource website (No Date). [Online] Available from: http://www.oiseaux-birds.com/home-page.html [Accessed 8-Aug-19].
Bibliography: Printed Resources (Books)
Britain and Europe
1. Bruun, B., Delin H., Svensson, L. (1970). Birds of Britain and Europe (Hamlyn Guide). (1992 ed). London: Hamlyn Publishing Group Ltd.
2. Menkhost, P., Rogers, D, Clarke, R. et al. (2017). The Australian Bird Guide. 1st ed. London: Christopher Helm.
3. Martin, S. (2010). Bradt Australian Wildlife: A Visitor’s Guide. Bradt Pubns.
4. Fitter, J. (2010). Field guide to the wildlife of New Zealand. London: Christopher Helm. (Reprint 2014).
5. Robertson, H., Heather, B. and Onley, D. (1999.). The Hand Guide to the Birds of New Zealand. (Revised and updated 3rd Ed 2015). New Zealand: Penguin.
6. Yong, D., Lim, K. and Lee, T. (2013.). A naturalist’s guide to the birds of Singapore. Oxford: John Beaufoy Publishing.
7. Robson, C. (2005). Birds of South-East Asia. (2015 ed, reprinted 2016). London: Christopher Helm (An imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc).
8. Bucknill, Sir John A.S., Chasen, F.N. (1927). Birds of Singapore and South East Asia. (1990 ed). Singapore: Graham Brash (Pte) Ltd.
9. Fitter, J., Fitter, D., Hosking, D., Withers, M. and O’Dwyer, S. (2015). Wildlife of the Galapagos. 2nd ed. London: William Collins.
10. Swash, A. and Still, R. (2005). Birds, Mammals, & Reptiles of the Galápagos Islands. 2nd ed. London: Christopher Helm.
11. Kenefick, M., Restall, R., Hayes, F. and Kenefick, M. (2007). Birds of Trinidad & Tobago. (2nd ed, reprinted 2013). London: Christopher Helm (An imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc).
12. Bowler, J. (2006). Wildlife of Seychelles. Old Basing, Hampshire: WILD Guides.
General and Taxonomy
13. Monroe, Jr., B. and Sibley, C. (1993). A World checklist of birds. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.
14. Morony, J.J., Bock, W.J. & Farrand, J. (1975). Reference List of the Birds of the World. American Museum of Natural History, New York.