Bird Families of the World

This page lists all 28 of the bird Orders found in the world, and 82 Families within the large Order Passeriformes, together with an indication of the number of species occurring in each, and the number of species which have occurred in Britain. Recently there have been large changes to the order in which birds are listed to better reflect their evolutionary history based on new evidence from DNA studies. This article provides an overview of the changes or you can read the detailed  recommendations of the British Ornithologists' Union Taxonomic Committee outlining the evidence for the Passerine families. For some insight into the wider changes in bird taxonomy, you may find the John Boyd's Taxonomy in Flux website useful and for detailed taxonomic information John Penhallurick's World Bird Info site. For those who wish to read the primary research papers, see the paper by Hackett and others in Science for a study of all the world's birds and that by Thomas in Proceedings B for common British birds.

There is also some disgreement between authorities over the total number of species, and their placement into different Families and Orders (and the order in which they evolved and so are presented in a list). For example:

Morony et al. (1975) 8,982 species in 158 Families
Monroe & Sibley (1993) 9,702 145
Clements (2000) 9,716 204
Dickinson (2003) 9,721 195
Perrins (2003) 9,845 172

The following table gives the number of species occurring in each order (or family within the large Passeriformes order) and the number recorded in Britain. For those families that have representatives in Britain (either regularly or as wanderers) click on the link to see more details. Note for non-passerine orders that only families that have occurred in Britain are listed. This list reflects the 'official' British list as determined by the British Ornithologists' Union, which has adopted some, but not all of the changes that have been proposed by recent studies, to see the families listed in a more traditional order, click here.

Order

Families

Species

in Britain

Superorder Palaeognathae
Struthioniformes 1 1 0 Ostrich
Rheiformes 1 2 0 Rheas
Apterygiformes 1 3 0 Kiwis
Casuariiformes 2 4 0 Emu and Cassowaries
Tinamiformes 1 46 0 Tinamous
Superorder Neognathae
Galloanserae
Anseriformes 2 165 58 Waterfowl
Anatidae (Swans, Geese and Ducks)
Galliformes 6 285 10 Gamebirds
Phasianidae (Pheasants & Partridges)
Tetraonidae (Grouse)
Neoaves
Sphenisciformes 1 17 0 Penguins
Gaviiformes 1 5 5 Divers
Gaviidae (Divers)
Procellariformes 4 125 18 Albatrosses and Petrels
Diomedeidae (Albatrosses)
Procellaridae (Shearwaters)
Hydrobatidae (Storm-petrels)
Pelecaniformes 6 65 7 Pelicans and relatives
Pelecanidae (Pelicans)
Phaethontidae (Tropicbirds)
Sulidae (Gannets)
Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants)
Fregatidae (Frigatebirds)
Ciconiiformes 6 117 18 Herons, Storks and relatives
Ardeidae (Herons)
Ciconiiidae (Storks)
Threskiornithidae (Ibises)
Phoenicopteridae (Flamingos)
Podicipediformes 1 22 6 Grebes
Podicepedidae (Grebes)
Accipitriformes 5 300 27 Vultures, Hawks and Falcons
Accipitridae (Hawks and Eagles)
Pandionidae (Osprey)
Falconidae (Falcons)
Gruiformes 11 203 16 Cranes, Rails and relatives
Rallidae (Rails, Crakes and Gallinules)
Gruidae (Cranes)
Otidae (Bustards)
Charadriiformes 18 342 135 Shorebirds
Haematopodidae (Oystercatchers)
Recurvirostridae (Avocets and Stilts)
Burhinidae (Thick-knees)
Glareolidae (Pratincoles and Coursers)
Charadriidae (Plovers)
Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and relatives)
Phalaropidae (Phalaropes)
Stercorariidae (Skuas)
Laridae (Gulls)
Sternidae (Terns)
Alcidae (Auks)
Pteroclidiformes 1 16 1 Sandgrouse
Pteroclidae (Sandgrouse)
Columbiformes 1 309 7 Pigeons and Doves
Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)
Psittaciformes 1 356 1 Parrots
Psittacidae (Parrots)
Cuculiformes 3 164 4 Cuckoos and relatives
Cuculidae (Cuckoos)
Strigiformes 2 205 9 Owls
Tytonidae (Barn and Grass Owls)
Strigidae (Typical Owls)
Caprimulgiformes 5 118 4 Nightjars and relatives
Caprimulgidae (Nightjars)
Apodiformes 3 424 7 Swifts and Hummingbirds
Apodidae (Swifts)
Trogoniformes 1 37 0 Trogons
Coliiformes 1 6 0 Mousebirds
Coraciiformes 9 206 6 Kingfishers and relatives
Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)
Meropidae (Bee-eaters)
Coraciidae (Rollers)
Upupidae (Hoopoe)
Piciformes 6 403 5 Woodpeckers, Toucans and relatives
Picidae (Woodpeckers)
Passeriformes 82 5,899 247 Perching Birds (see below)
Acanthisittidae
2 0 New Zealand Wrens
Suborder Tyranni (Sub-Oscines)
Philepittidae
4 0 Asities
Eurylaimidae
15 8 Broadbills
Pittidae
32 0 Pittas
Pipridae
50 0 Manakins
Cotingidae
94 0 Cotingas
Tyrannidae
436 1 Tyrant Flycatchers
Conopophagidae
8 0 Gnateaters
Thamnophilidae
204 0 Antbirds
Rhinocryptidae
55 0 Tapaculos
Formicariidae
62 0 Ground Antbirds
Furnariidae
217 0 Ovenbirds
Dendrocolaptidae
52 0 Woodcreepers
Suborder Passeri (Oscines)
Menuridae
2 0 Lyrebirds
Atrichornithidae
2 0 Australian Scrub-birds
Climacteridae
7 0 Australasian Treecreepers
Ptilonorhynicdae
20 0 Bowerbirds
Maluridae
27 0 Fairy-wrens
Meliphagidae
182 0 Honeyeaters and Australian Chats
Orthonychidae
16 0 Log-runners
Pomatostomidae
5 0 Australasian Babblers
Acanthizidae
67 0 Australian Warblers
Corvida
Campephagidae
85 0 Cuckoo-shrikes
Pachycephalidae
62 0 Whistlers
Vireonidae
52 3 Vireos
Oriolidae
28 1 Old World Orioles
Artamidae
11 0 Wood Swallows
Cracticidae
14 0 Australian Butcher-birds
Aegithinidae
4 0 Ioras
Prionopidae
8 0 Helmet-Shrikes
Vangidae
41 0 Vanga Shrikes
Malaconotidae
46 0 Bush-shrikes
Dicruridae
24 0 Drongos
Rhipiduridae
42 0 Fantail Flycatchers
Corcoracidae
2 0 Australian Mud-nesters
Grallinidae
2 0 Magpie-larks
Paradisaeidae
42 0 Birds of Paradise
Monarchidae
98 0 Monarch Flycatchers
Laniidae
30 9 Shrikes
Corvidae
118 9 Crows
Passerida
Callaeidae
3 0 New Zealand Wattlebirds
Eopsaltridae
44 0 Australasian Robins
Picathartidae
4 0 Rockfowl
Regulidae (Uncertain Affinity)
6 2 Kinglets
Remizidae
13 1 Penduline Tits
Paridae
53 6 Tits and Chickadees
Alaudidae
80 10 Larks
Hirundidae
89 8 Swallows and Martins
Pyconotidae
140 0 Bulbuls
Cettiidae
140 1 Bush Warblers
Aegithalidae
7 1 Long-tailed Tits
Sylviidae
389 51 Old World Warblers
Zosteropidae
88 0 White-eyes
Timaliidae
285 1 Babblers and Laughing-thrushes
Dulidae
1 0 Palmchat
Hypocoliidae
1 0 Grey Hypocolius
Bombycillidae
7 2 Waxwings
Sittidae
25 2 Nuthatches
Certhiidae
6 2 Treecreepers
Polioptilidae
14 0 Gnatcatchers
Troglodytidae
83 1 Wrens
Mimidae
36 3 Mockingbirds
Sturnidae
114 2 Starlings and Mynas
Cinclidae
5 1 Dippers
Turdidae
422 50 Thrushes, Chats & Flycatchers
Dicaeidae
55 0 Flowerpeckers
Nectariniidae
132 0 Sunbirds and relatives
Irenidae
10 0 Leafbirds
Prunellidae
13 2 Accentors
Ploceidae
118 0 Weavers
Estrildidae
156 0 Waxbills
Passeridae
36 4 Sparrows
Motacillidae
67 15 Wagtails and Pipits
Carduelidae
136 22 Finches
Drepanidae
22 0 Hawaiian Honeycreepers
Cardinalidae
43 2 Cardinal Grosbeaks
Thraupidae
413 2 Tanagers
Emberizidae
291 27 Buntings and New World Sparrows
Icteridae
102 3 New World Blackbirds
Parulidae
116 18 New World Warblers
TOTALS
170 9845 603