• Western Bowerbird, Male arranging ornaments in front of its avenue bower

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 lists for Aves Order are HBW & Birdlife, Clements, Howard & Moore, and IOC World Bird Names. There are others, such as J Boyd’s Taxonomy in Flux Checklist and Sibley & Monroe.

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) on-line rights have been acquired by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology from Lynx Edicions (Lynx). This new on-line resource, Birds of the World, went live in early March 2020. It uses Clements checklist and the non-integrated eBird for recording sightings. I’m not a fan of eBird for recording sightings; I’m still waiting for eBird to import my HBW Alive sightings list.

My way forward is to use Birds of the World as one of my reference sources and for my bird sightings a bespoke database linked to both my published photographs and my Adobe Lightroom catalogue. This approach allows me to use a mix of the primary checklists and Taxonomy in Flux checklist depending on, Aves orders, region, and maturity of implemented taxonomy changes.

Photo Album and Collections

My bird image names are consistent with common and scientific names given in the four most popular checklists. However, the arrangement of families, genera and species into higher-level taxonomic groups is complicated with several completing classification systems. I’ve arranged my photo albums in eight collections.

The first four cover passerines based on taxonomy:

(a) Basal Oscines and Acanthisitti.
(c) Corvida.
(b) Passerida.
(d) And Tyranni (Suboscines).

The remaining albums cover Non-passerines based on habitat:

(a) Landbirds.
(b) Core Waterbirds.
(c) Waterbirds (including waders).
(d) And Seabirds (including pelagic).

For each collection of photo albums, a webpage introduces them and provides hypertext links to second level webpages that display image galleries of related 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, or my favourite images.


Passerines are birds in order Passeriformes, which is the largest and most diverse bird group. Under Monroe and Ahlquist (M&S) Taxonomy, Passeriformes splits into two suborders:  Tyranni (Suboscines) and Passeri (Oscines). Passeri then splits into two parvorders Corvida and Passerida parvorders. However, more 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. To help the presentation of my photo album, I follow J Boyd’s Taxonomy in Flux Checklist, and to some extent IOC World Bird List, Order of Birds. I use both these for reference when understanding taxonomic changes and proposals to Aves orders and families.

The main difference between M&A and J Boyd Checklist for passerines is the split them into three suborders: Acanthisitti (New Zealand Wrens), Tyranni (Suboscines) and Passeri (Oscines). Also, the introduction of Basal Oscines, the latter is split from Corvida into several new parvorders and new superfamilies.

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.


Non-passerines refer to the other 50% or so of bird species, that 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 update. J Boyd’s Taxonomy in Flux Checklist, currently lists 46 orders, including Passeriformes and list 248 families. I have adopted most taxonomic changes to Aves orders and families in Taxonomy in Flux Checklist, especially when there is an agreement with the Order of Birds in IOC World Bird List.

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.

References: Online Resources

    1. Birds of the World. [Online] Available from https://birdsoftheworld.org [Accessed 5th March 2020].

    2. Cornell Lab of Ornithology. [Online] Available from https://www.birds.cornell.edu/home/ [Accessed 15th November 2018].

    3. BirdLife International (2016). Nature conservation Partnership. [Online] Available from //www.birdlife.org/ [Accessed 15th September 2018].

    4. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. [Online] Available from: http://www.iucnredlist.org/ [Accessed15th September 2018].

    5. Boyd, J (No date). Taxonomy in Flux Checklist. V3.08. [Online] Available from: http://jboyd.net/Taxo/List.html [Accessed 15th September 2018].

    6. Gill, F & Donsker, D (Editors) (2016). IOC World Bird List (v 8.2). [Online] Available from: //www.worldbirdnames.org/ [Accessed 15th September 2018]. DOI: 10.14344/IOC.ML.6.2.

    7. Gill, F & D Donsker (Editors) (2019). IOC World Bird List, Order of Birds, Draft, June 28, 2019. [Online] Available from: worldbirdnames.org/classification/orders-of-birds-draft/ [Accessed 28th November 2019].

    8. Wetlands International (2019). “Waterbird Population Estimates”. Available from http://wetlands.org [Accessed 8th August 2019]. Wetlands International, Ramsar Convention webpage: http://wpe.wetlands.org/Iwhatrwb

    9. Handbook of the Birds of the World (HBW) Alive [Online] Available from //www.hbw.com [Accessed 15th September 2018].

Bibliography: Online Resources

    1. Avibase – the world bird database (2016). Avibase is an extensive database information system about all birds of the world. [Online] Available from: //avibase.bsc-eoc.org/avibase.jsp?lang=EN&pg=home. [Accessed 21st April 2016].

    2. Birdforum – dedicated to wild birds and birding. [Online] Available from //www.birdforum.net [Accessed 15th September 2018].

    3. Heron Conservation – The IUCN-SCC Heron Specialist Group. [Online] Available from: //www.heronconservation.org [Accessed 15th September 2018].

    4. iNaturalist.org. . [Online] Available from: //www.inaturalist.org. [Accessed 21st April 2016].

    5. Oriental Bird Images – A database of the Oriental Bird Club. [Online] Available from: http://orientalbirdimages.org/ [Accessed 17th September 2018].

    6. Singapore Birds Project (No Date). [Online] Available from: //singaporebirds.com/ [Accessed 17th September 2018].

    7. The Internet Bird Collection (IBC). [Online] Available from: //ibc.lynxeds.com/ [Accessed 7th April 2016].Howard, L. 2003. “Anatidae” [On-line], Animal Diversity Web. Available from: https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Anatidae/ [Accessed 8th August 2019].

    8. Howard, L. 2003. “Anatidae” [On-line], Animal Diversity Web. Available from:  //animaldiversity.org/accounts/Anatidae/ [Accessed 8th August 2019].

    9. Oiseaux Birds resource website (No Date). [Online] Available from: http://www.oiseaux-birds.com/ [Accessed 11th March 2020].

Bibliography: Printed Resources

    1. Bowler, J. (2006). Wildlife of Seychelles. Old Basing, Hampshire: WILD Guides.

    2. Bruun, B., Delin H., Svensson, L. (1970). Birds of Britain and Europe (Hamlyn Guide). (1992 ed). London: The Hamlyn Publishing Group Ltd.

    3. Bucknill, Sir John A.S., Chasen, F.N. (1927). Birds of Singapore and South East Asia. (1990 ed). Singapore: Graham Brash (Pte) Ltd.

    4. Fitter, J. (2010). Field guide to the wildlife of New Zealand. London: Christopher Helm. (Reprint 2014).

    5. Fitter, J., Fitter, D., Hosking, D., Withers, M. and O’Dwyer, S. (2015). Wildlife of the Galapagos. 2nd ed. London: William Collins.

    6. 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).

    7. Martin, S. (2010). Bradt Australian Wildlife: A Visitor’s Guide. Bradt Pubns.

    8. Monroe, Jr., B. and Sibley, C. (1993). A World checklist of birds. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.

    9. Morony, J.J., Bock, W.J. & Farrand, J. (1975). Reference List of the Birds of the World. American Museum of Natural History, New York.

    10. 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.

    11. Robson, C. (2005). Birds of South-East Asia. (2015 ed, reprinted 2016). London: Christopher Helm (An imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc).

    12. Swash, A. and Still, R. (2005). Birds, mammals, & reptiles of the Galápagos Islands. 2nd ed. London: Christopher Helm.

    13. Yong, D., Lim, K. and Lee, T. (2013.). A naturalist’s guide to the birds of Singapore. Oxford: John Beaufoy Publishing.

    14. Swash, A. and Still, R. (2005). Birds, mammals, & reptiles of the Galápagos Islands. 2nd ed. London: Christopher Helm.

    15. Menkhost, P., Rogers, D, Clarke, R. et al. (2017). The Australian Bird Guide. 1st ed. London: Christopher Helm.