Associated information :
As an addendum to the above, here are a few notes that were relevant to my findings at the end of 2015. They provide some additional information that was current at the time. They may be occasionally updated or added to if I come across any future amendments to the systems that materially change or supersede anything I’ve written. Any such changes will be properly identified and recorded to try to keep this page as current as possible.
"Taxonomy in Flux” (TiF)
As the name suggests, “Taxonomy in Flux” is a regularly maintained on-line bird taxonomy checklist based on current genetic studies and latest research. Its American author, Professor John Boyd, is not governed by formal approval processes and, therefore, is in a position of being able to keep his taxonomy at least one step ahead of any of the primary bird lists. His personally maintained checklist separates a number of unique species and certain families where recent scientific data shows that they should be split from existing conventional orders. It also re-evaluates and splits groups of ‘similar’ species, such as the long-legged waterbirds and diurnal ‘birds of prey’. The result is an extended system of 46 orders containing 110 non-passerine and 138 passerine families. An abridged version of the current list can be found here
IOC (International Ornithological Congress)
The original IOC commissioned 'Birds of the World’ book (Gill and Wright 2006) is out-dated in terms of classification and, as such, is now supplemented by the IOC website listing. The first version of the list mostly followed the classification and sequence of families in the Howard and Moore checklist that was current at the time and, therefore, the IOC still make reference to the latest version of these works. They also confirm that their web-based list, which is updated quarterly, complements the other two primary world bird lists, being eBird/Clements and HBW/Birdlife. Their mission is to improve alignment between the various lists with a view to having a single globally recognised taxonomy. They fully acknowledge changes currently being made to classification, corrections of nomenclature and other related updates of species taxonomy in light of recent DNA analysis. And, in this respect, make specific reference to John Boyd’s “Taxonomy in Flux” website as an excellent resource of information. Their current policy is "to change higher level classification and sequences of taxa conservatively", confirming that "stability is important and, being creatures of habit, we all find taxon or species more easily in a familiar sequence, even if dated". Notwithstanding that final comment, it was interesting to note that their 2015 v5.4 ‘world bird list’ included 40 orders and 239 families, which was closer to the TiF list than any of the other checklists. An abridged version of the current list, still showing 40 orders and 109 non-passerine families, can be found here
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology - eBird/Clements
Shortly after writing the original version of this document, I found that a number of photos on my Flickr photostream had had additional scientific name tags added by an automated system linked to a particular specialist bird group that I belong to. Notwithstanding why or how this was done, it was one hell of a coincidence, as it happened on the very day that I was finalising the new structure of my Lightroom keywords. Whilst most of the new tags tallied with changes that I had already identified, a few didn’t. I contacted the group and found that the system they were using was the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s v2015 update of the Clements ‘Checklist of Birds of the World’, 6th edition. It was the tenth instalment of updates and corrections of the 2007 publication. Given that this update was as current as anything else I’d looked at, it made sense to do a quick comparison with the other lists. Without going into too much detail, I found it to be very similar to the information I’d sourced from Wikipedia’s
‘list of birds’. It was showing 39 orders, most as Wikipedia
, albeit not in the same taxonomical sequence. Interestingly, where Wikipedia
differed, their listing was more in line with the TiF system. A simplified version of that particular eBird/Clements list showing their taxonomic structure for all 38 non-passerine orders and 109 associated families can be found here
. At that time, I noted they were listing 126 families within the order PASSERIFORMES, compared to 138 on the TiF list.
BirdLife International has been operating its own taxonomic checklist for a number of years. Duly acknowledging the urgent need to resolve the taxonomic rank of many taxa, BirdLife treat their list as an ongoing ‘work in progress’, which they usually update on an annual basis. BirdLife’s priorities are more to do with conservation issues, such as identifying globally threatened species, important bird and biodiversity areas (IBA’s) and endemic bird areas (EBA’s). When I looked at v8 of the list in October 2015, just after it was made public, I noticed a number of anomalies compared with the previous three taxonomy listings. There are too many differences to explain in detail, but the two that jumped out at me were 1) they place Ostriches, Rheas, Tinamous, Cassowaries, Emus and Kiwis all together in an extended STRUTHIONIFORMES order, thereby completely ignoring RHEIFORMES (Rheas), TINAMIFORMES (Tinamous), CASUARIIFORMES (Cassowaries and Emu) and APTERYGIFORMES (Kiwis), which all the other authorities recognise, and 2) surprisingly, particularly following that previous observation, they’ve adopted the new order CATHARTIFORMES for New World Vultures as the TiF list, whereas the other authorities do not. In total they listed 36 orders including 104 non-passerine families. Again, for comparison purposes, a simplified version of that list can be found here
. I did not look at the passerine families, but understand they were listing 137 at the time, very similar to the TiF system.
BTO (British Trust for Ornithology)
The BTO’s ‘Bird Families of the World’ taxonomic listings are derived from the BOU (British Ornithological Union) list. There are actually two published lists - the first being classed as a traditional list based on morphological characteristics, and a more current list reflecting the official position of the BTO where they have adopted some, but certainly not all, of the changes proposed by recent studies. I referred to the latter when I analysed the different lists in November 2015. Both versions include just 28 orders, which the BTO state are "all the bird orders found in the world”. This becomes difficult to understand because, even if we put the extended TiF system to one side for a moment, the other three authorities - IOC, eBird/Clements and HBW/BirdLife, include 40, 39 and 36 orders respectively. I trust it’s fair to say that the system is dated - the information remains the same at July 2017 and, I guess, will remain so until the IOC list is adopted in January 2018. The only other point worth noting is that, like the IOC, the BTO also make specific reference to John Boyd’s “Taxonomy in Flux” website as a useful source of detailed taxonomic information, which is rather surprising given how far apart the two systems are in terms of classification.
The taxonomy page
of my InfoData section provides various links to all the above authorities and their associated checklists.
Issue : 1