• Maroon-bellied Sunbird (Leptocoma brasiliana), Male at Bukit Batok Nature Park in Singapore

Birds Photographed in their Natural Habitat

There are around 9,000 to 10,000 known species of birds in the world and to-date I have only photographed a modest 400 different species. However, taking sexual dimorphism, different sub-species (ssp), age, habitat and behaviour into account I have significantly more images of interest.

Bird Taxonomy

Choosing one of the many bird taxonomies and associated checklist to follow depends in part on the aims, location of the authority and personal requirements. There are three primary checklists for birds of the world: Clements, Howard & Moore and HBW Alive but there are others such as International Ornithological Committee (IOC) and Sibley & Monroe.

I decided to follow HBW Alive because:
(a)  It offers online access to HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World, published by Lynx Edicions;
(b)  BirdLife International is The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List Authority for birds;
(c) And I have full access to HBW Alive on an annual subscription basis and to ‘My Birding’ database allowing me to record sightings and birding trips.

Bird Image Galleries and Albums

My bird image names are consistent with common and scientific names given in the HBW Alive / Birdlife checklist. However, the arrangement of families, genera and species into higher level taxonomic groups is complicated with several completing classification systems. To manage my collections of photo albums and keep things simple, I treat oscine passerines, suboscine passerines and non-passerines differently arranging each of them into several collections of photo albums:

(a) Oscine passerines grouped by Sibley and Ahlquist taxonomy parvorders but modified to account for some proposed changes under the modern approach to avian taxonomy that follows DNA sequences and analytical approaches using J Boyd’s Taxonomy in Flux Checklist Checklist as a reference:
    (i) Passerida Oscines;
    (ii) Basal and Corvida Oscines.

(b) Suboscine passerines grouped by Old Word and New World geographic areas.

(c) Non-passerines grouped by habitat type:
    (i) Landbirds;
    (ii) Waterbirds (including waders);
    (iii) Seabirds (including pelagic).

For each collection a webpage introduces a group of albums providing hypertext links to second level webpages that showcase image galleries of related bird families. The galleries feature portraits of each species that I’ve photographed together with an additional gallery that showcases behavioural or environmental themes such as nesting, hunting, feeding, habitat, action or my favourite images.


Order Passeriformes (passerines) is the largest and most diverse bird group with three sub-orders:

(a) Oscine passerines (Passeri), often but less accurately called songbirds, contain about 4000 species; these birds have highly developed voice boxes and are distributed worldwide. Under Sibley and Ahlquist Classification Passeri was split into Passerida and Corvida parvorders, however more recent studies have shown it is more complex and changes continue to be proposed and made introducing parvorders, infraorders and superfamilies to Passeriformes order although these are not universally accepted. However, these studies support a core Corvida group that is sister to Passerida.

(b) Suboscine passerines (Tyranni) contain about 1000 species; these have simple voice boxes with pan-tropical distribution;

(c) Acanthisittidae contains 6 known species of wren all endemic to New Zealand.

Passerines or perching birds are 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.

HBW Live lists 138 families, 1358 genera and 6592 species of passerine.


Non-passerines refer to the other 5000 or so, birds that are placed in separate orders.

Authorities disagree as to the number of species and their placement in families and orders. HBW Alive recognise 35 orders, 105 families, 988 genera and 4372 species of non-passerine. I find Taxonomy in Flux Checklist a useful reference when trying to understand taxonomic changes and proposals to order and family placement. This checklist currently lists 46 orders and 248 families, ten more orders but only 5 more families than HBW Alive.

The species list is reasonably 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 new species and subspecies are being discovered.


  1. BirdLife International (2016). Nature conservation Partnership. [Online] Available from: // [Accessed 15th September 2018].
  2. Boyd, J (No date). Taxonomy in Flux Checklist. V3.08. [Online] Available from: [Accessed 15th September 2018].
  3. Handbook of the Birds of the World (HBW) Alive website allows subscription-based access to the [Online] Available from: // [Accessed 15th September 2018].
  4. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. [Online] Available from: [Accessed15th September 2018].


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  2. Birdforum – dedicated to wild birds and birding. [Online] Available from // [Accessed 15th September 2018].
  3. Bowler, J. (2006). Wildlife of Seychelles. Old Basing, Hampshire: WILD Guides.
  4. Bruun, B., Delin H., Svensson, L. (1970). Birds of Britain and Europe (Hamlyn Guide). (1992 ed). London: The Hamlyn Publishing Group Ltd.
  5. Bucknill, Sir John A.S., Chasen, F.N. (1927). Birds of Singapore and South East Asia. (1990 ed). Singapore: Graham Brash (Pte) Ltd.
  6. Fitter, J. (2010). Field guide to the wildlife of New Zealand. London: Christopher Helm. (Reprint 2014).
  7. Gill, F & Donsker, D (Editors) (2016). IOC World Bird List (v 8.2). [Online] Available from: // [Accessed 15th September 2018]. DOI: 10.14344/IOC.ML.6.2.
  8. Heron Conservation – The IUCN-SCC Heron Specialist Group. [Online] Available from: // [Accessed 15th September 2018].
  9. 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).
  10. . [Online] Available from: // [Accessed 21st April 2016].
  11. Martin, S. (2010). Bradt Australian Wildlife: A Visitor’s Guide. Bradt Pubns.
  12. Morony, J.J., Bock, W.J. & Farrand, J. (1975). Reference List of the Birds of the World. American Museum of Natural History, New York.
  13. Oriental Bird Images – A database of the Oriental Bird Club. [Online] Available from: [Accessed 17th September 2018].
  14. 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.
  15. Robson, C. (2005). Birds of South-East Asia. (2015 ed, reprinted 2016). London: Christopher Helm (An imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc).
  16. Singapore Bird Project (No Date). [Online] Available from: // [Accessed 17th September 2018].
  17. The Internet Bird Collection (IBC). [Online] Available from: // [Accessed 7th April 2016].
  18. Yong, D., Lim, K. and Lee, T. (2013.). A naturalist’s guide to the birds of Singapore. Oxford: John Beaufoy Publishing.