how many orders of birds

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 Boyds Taxonomy in Flux website useful and for detailed taxonomic information John Penhalluricks 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 worlds 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).

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.

Abstract of the BIRD FAMILIES of the WORLD project status: The 41 BIRD ORDERS status! According to taxonomy (Clements, 2023), there are 41 Orders in the Class AVES (birds). Every Order comprises one or more Families (the project target is 250 Families in total). – At least one bird observed – 41 worldwide orders of birds

1 ORDER STRUTHIONIFORMES – OSTRICHES – Common Ostrich ???? 2 ORDER RHEIFORMES – RHEAS – Lesser Rhea ???? 3 ORDER TINAMIFORMES – TINAMOUS- Elegant Crested Tinamou ???? 4 ORDER CASUARIIFORMES – CASSOWARIES – Southern Cassowary ???? 5 ORDER APTERYGIFORMES – KIWIS – Southern Brown Kiwi ???? 6 ORDER ANSERIFORMES – DUCKS – Madagascar Pochard ???? 7 ORDER GALLIFORMES – PHEASANTS – Red Junglefowl ???? 8 ORDER PHOENICOPTERIFORMES – FLAMINGOS – Greater Flamingo ???? 9 ORDER PODICIPEDIFORMES – GREBES – White-tufted Grebe ???? 10 ORDER COLUMBIFORMES – PIGEONS AND DOVES – Madagascar Blue Pigeon ???? 11 ORDER MESITORNITHIFORMES – MESITES – Subdesert Mesite ???? 12 ORDER PTEROCLIFORMES – SANDGROUSES – Crowned Sandgrouse ???? 13 ORDER OTIDIFORMES – BUSTARDS – Macqueen’s Bustard ???? 14 ORDER MUSOPHAGIFORMES – TURACOS – Bare-faced Go-away-bird ???? 15 ORDER CUCULIFORMES – CUCKOOS – Greater Roadrunner ???? 16 ORDER CAPRIMULGIFORMES – NIGHTJARS AND ALLIES – Nubian Nightjar ???? 17 ORDER OPISTHOCOMIFORMES – HOATZIN – Hoatzin ???? 18 ORDER GRUIFORMES – RAILS – Red-and-white Crake ???? 19 ORDER CHARADRIIFORMES – WADERS – Lesser Sand Plover ???? 20 ORDER EURYPYGIFORMES – KAGO, SUNBITTERN – Sunbittern ???? 21 ORDER PHAETHONTIFORMES – TROPICBIRDS – Red-billed Tropicbird ???? 21 ORDER GAVIIFORMES – LOONS – Arctic Loon ???? 23 ORDER SPHENISCIFORMES – PENGUINS – African Penguin ???? 24 ORDER PROCELLARIIFORMES – SHEARWATERS – Yellow-nosed Albatross ???? 25 ORDER CICONIIFORMES- STORKS – Greater Adjutant ???? 26 ORDER SULIFORMES – BOOBIES and GANNETS – Northern Gannet ???? 27 ORDER PELECANIFORMES – PELICANS – Shoebill ???? 28 ORDER CATHARTIFORMES – NEW WORLD VULTURES – King Vulture ???? 29 ORDER ACCIPITRIFORMES – HAWKS, EAGLES and KITES – White-bellied Goshawk ???? 30 ORDER STRIGIFORMES – OWLS – Snowy Owl ???? 31 ORDER COLIIFORMES – MOUSEBIRDS – White-backed Mousebird ???? 32 ORDER LEPTOSOMIFORMES – CUCUKOO ROLLER, Cuckoo Roller ???? 33 ORDER TROGONIFORMES – TROGONS – Black-throated Trogon ???? 34 ORDER BUCEROTIFORMES – HOOPOES and HORNBILLS – Southern Ground-Hornbill ???? 35 ORDER CORACIIFORMES – ROLLERS AND ALLIES – Broad-billed Tody ???? 36 ORDER GALBULIFORMES – JACAMARS and PUFFBIRDS – Rufous-tailed Jacamar ???? 37 ORDER PICIFORMES – WOODPECKERS AND ALLIES – Green-billed Toucan ???? 38 ORDER CARIAMIFORMES – SERIEMA – Red-legged Seriema ???? 39 ORDER FALCONIFORMES – FALCONS – Southern Crested Caracara ???? 40 ORDER PSITTACIFORMES – PARROTS – Kea ???? 41 ORDER PASSERIFORMES – PASSERINES – Olive Warbler ????

The number of species found in each order (or family within the broad Passeriformes order) and the number known to exist in Britain are shown in the following table.

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 worlds birds and that by Thomas in Proceedings B for common British birds.

To view more information about the families with representatives in Britain, either on a regular basis or as vagabonds, click the link. Please take note that only families who have occurred in Britain are listed for non-passerine orders.

Authorities disagree somewhat regarding the total number of species, as well as how they should be categorized into various Families and Orders (as well as the chronological order in which they evolved and are listed).

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.