Aims of this Website


This website aims to provide the most complete account of all species of birds in the world.

This website is obviously going to be very useful to professional ornithologists, guides and museum ornithologists. But it should also be very useful for serious birders. It involves detailed information of the distrribution of each species, and for rare or local ones, I often tell you the best place or places to find them: for example, the best place to see Ochraceous Attila Attila torridus is in Machalilla National Park in Manabi, Ecuador. Or that the easiest place to find the Kalkadoon Grasswren Amytornis ballarae (for which you have to fly into Mt. Isa) is right above Mt Isa in rocky scrub behind and to the left of the big watertank directly above the town.

You can find information about birds in several ways: one is via Bird Search, where you can search in many different ways. I have recently added the ability to search for generic and subgeneric names and for generic and subgeneric synonyms. You will find detailed help on ways of searching below the search box. Alternatively, you can click on any of the three Family Lists, and then click on a Family under that List. This will list all species in the Family, and by cliking on any species you will get the account of that species.

Information in the Website

I aim to give, for each species:

  •     English Name (with species endemic to a particular country followed by @)
  •     Scientific Name
  •     French Name
  •     German Name
  •     Spanish Name
  •     English Synonyms
  •     Peters Family Name
  •     Sibley & Monroe Family Name
  •     Gill (2nd edn) Family Name, as used by Clements
  •     Habitat
  •     Distribution
  •     Threat Status (for birds lists in the IUCN's Red Data Book)
  •     Criteria for Threat Status
  •     Annotated synonymy for every Generic, Subgeneric, Species and Subspecies Name

In addition, I am trying to add a photo or image, plus the call or song, if available, for every species.

I am also working on adding the most up-to-date family list, based on multiple genes, as advanced for the Non-Passerines by;

  •     S. J. Hacket, R. T. Kimball, S. Reddy, R. C. K. Bowie, E. L. Braun, M. J. Braun, J. L. Chojnowski, W. A. Cox, Kin-Han Lan, J. Harshman, C. J. Huddlestone, B. D. Marks, K .J. Miglia, W. S. Moore, F. H. Sheldon, D. W. Steadman, C. J. Witt and T.Yuri (2008) A phylogenetic study of birds reveals their evolutionary history. Science 320, 1763.

And for the Passerines, the study by:

  •     K. A. Jønsson and J. Fjeldså (2006) A phylogenetic supertree of oscine passerine birds (Aves Passeri). Zoologica Scripta 35,no.2,pp.149-186.

Several important papers since then have added significant modifications: the superfamily Bombycilloidea has been added;

  •     Fuchs J, Irestedt M, Fjeldså J, Couloux A, Pasquet E & Bowie RCK (2012) Molecular phylogeny of African bush-shrikes and allies: tracing the biogeographic history of an explosive radiation of corvoid birds. Mol. Phyl. Evol. 64: 93-105.
  •     Zuccon D, Prys-Jones R, Rasmussen PC & Ericson PCP (2011) The phylogenetic relationships and generic limits of finches (Fringillidae). Mol. Phyl. Evol. Doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2011.10.002.

More recently still, several papers have clarified the issue of families within the Syldoidea: notably

  •     Fregin, S, Haase, M, Olsson, U & Alström, P. (2012) New insights into family relationships within the avian superfamily Sylvioidea (Passeriformes) based on seven molecular markers. BMC Evolutionary Biology, 12, 157. (doi:10.1186/1471-2148-12-157)

For help on searching for birds, click on Birds Search. At the bottom of the screen is extensive help on how to use Birds Search.

Codes for Threat Status

EX    Extinct
EW    Extinct in the Wild
CR    Critical
EN    Endangered
VU    Vulnerable
CD    Conservation Dependent
NT    Near Threatened
DD    Data Deficient
0    Low Risk or Not Evaluated

Conventions for Distribution

Under Distribution, I aim to list at least every country in which the species has ever occurred, and its abundance seasonality and breeding status in that country. And also to list any subspecies that occur in that country in their range.

A typical example (which happens to be the distribution of Three-striped Warbler Basileuterus tristriatus in Colombia) follows:

COLOMBIA<300-2500m;vicinity of Cerro Tacarcuna on Panama border{fR+} [tacarcunae]; Western Andes & western slope of Central Andes south from Antioquia{cR+}[daedalus];Serranía Macuira in east Guajira;Perijá Mts & east slope of Central Andes & Eastern Andes south to Nariño & Huila{cR+} [auricularis]>(cR+)

The name of the country is given in capitals, followed optionally by information on within-country distribution and subspecies in angled brackets < >. This is followed by information on abundance, seasonality and breeding status for the country in round brackets ( ). Note that where abundance, seasonality and breeding status differ in different parts of the country, information on that will be given in curly bracket { } inside the angled brackets. Subspecies' names are placed in square brackets.

The following codes are used to indicate Breeding Status, Abundance and Seasonality:

R+    Permanent Resident, Breeding
R-    Permanent Resident, Non-breeding
S+    Summer Resident, Breeding
S-    Summer Resident, Non-breeding
W+    Winter Resident, Breeding
W-    Winter Resident, Non-Breeding
M    Migrant
P    Spring Migrant
T    Autumn Migrant
V    Vagrant

# in place of + indicates a probable, but not confirmed, breeder.

The following codes are used to indicate abundance:

c    Common
f    Fairly Common
u    Uncommon
r    Rare
x    Extremely rare

In addition, an abundance code may be preceded by l, indicating locally; eg. luS+ would indicate 'locally uncommon Summer breeding resident'. Also Status codes may be followed by by ? or q. ? indicates uncertainty about the record, usually because of possible confusion with a similar species. q indicates a record that appears reliable, but which has not yet (to our knowledge) been officially accepted.

Conventions used in Scientific names & synonyms file

I have used symbols to designate the kind of data in each record. The symbols are as follows:

! indicates a generic name
> indicates a subgeneric name
| indicates a synonym for either a generic or subgeneric name
% with capital letters, indicates a species name
# designates a subspecies name, followed by the distribution of the subspecies in { }
< indicates the citation on which a species or subspecies name is based
$ indicates a synonym for either a species or subspecies name
$~ indicates a name that has been taken to designate a subspecies, but which we do not treat as such.

Where the actual date of publication differs from the date printed in the source, following ICZN Art.22A.2,we put the actual year of publication first after the author's name, followed by the printed date in square brackets [...] in quotes. For example: Sterna elegans Gambel,1849["1848"],Proceedings of the Academy of National Science of Philadelphia,4,p.129.

We pay particular attention to the treatment of subspecies in Peters and Howard and Moore,2nd edn and 3rd edn, since these are the sources most people will go to in search of information about subspecies.

? at the beginning of a record, indicates a name about whose status there is doubt, particularly in relation to unidentifiable names.
(? ) in the middle of a subspecies name indicates that the subspecies may in fact either be a good species, or may be wrongly assigned.

Any of the above categories may be followed by a Note. The word Note ( or the abbreviation (ctd) where the Note is longer than one record, is preceded by the symbol for the record to which the Note refers. Thus a note to a species entry will have the form %Note: . One to a genus will begin: !Note . An entry with the $~ will always be followed by $~Note… indicating the sources who have treated this name as designating a subspecies.

Since this is a work in progress, I use some standard methods to indicate missing data:

A series of Xs (eg XXXXXXX) is used to indicate missing data in a reference.

A series of Y's in brackets (YYYYYYYY) indicates a record where I need to check the type locality of the name or other basis.

Support this website

As you know, this website has never accepted any advertising or sponsorship. However maintaining the website requires me to pay regular amounts of money to my ISP. So I would be grateful if any users could make a small donation via paypal to help with these costs.

Neotropic Cormorant Texas