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Classification (Current: HBW - BirdLife (v3))

Organisms are classified in order to make sense of the diversity of species by grouping together related forms. This classification can help to indicate the probable course of evolution. The exact number and sequence of categories may vary between authorities but the relationship can be described as follows.

This following classification is based on the work of Sibley and Monroe and avian DNA - DNA hydrization data (1, 2).

Older systems were based on a hierarchical sequence of categories: class, kindom, phylum, class, order, family, genus and species. With new biological methods we are able to break down the relationship into a much more detailed picture. This new avian classification is as follows, using the Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus) as an example:

Kingdom - Animalia
 Phylum - Chordata
  Class - Aves
   Infraclass - Neoaves
    Parvclass - Passerae
     Superorder - Passerimorphae
      Order - Ciconiiformes
       Suborder - Ciconii
        Infraorder - Ciconiides
         Parvorder - Podicipedida
          Family - Podicipedidae
           Genus - Podiceps
            Species - cristatus
             Subspecies - no subspecies

For the relationships between Order and Families in the class Aves see,


For a complete Taxonomic list click here.

1. Sibley, C.G., and Ahlquist, J.E., 1986. Reconstructing bird phylogeny by comparing DNAs. Sci. Amer. 254(2): 82-92.
2. Sibley, C.G., and Ahlquist, J.E., 1990. Phylogeny and Classification of Birds: A study in Molecular Evolution. New Haven: Yale University Press.