Belongs within: Aequornithia.Contains: Oceanitidae, Oceanodroma, Procellariidae. The Procellariiformes contain the tube-nosed seabirds: albatrosses, petrels and shearwaters. Members of the Procellariiformes have more or less tubular nostrils running along the basal part of the beak, and the front three toes connected by webs (Mayr et al. 2002). The albatrosses of the Diomedeidae include the largest living… Continue reading Procellariiformes


Belongs within: Aequornithia. Fregata, the frigatebirds, is a genus of large, highly aerial seabirds found in warmer waters of the world. Despite their marine habitat, frigatebirds are largely incapable of swimming and instead feed on the wing by capturing fish from the water surface or forcing other seabirds to give up their kill. They are… Continue reading Fregata


Belongs within: Aequornithia. The Ciconiidae, storks, are large long-legged and -billed birds found primarily in warmer parts of the world. Storks are often described as voiceless, only communicating by rattling their bills. However, while this is largely true of the white stork Ciconia ciconia, other species may produce a variety of sounds such as whistling… Continue reading Ciconiidae


Belongs within: Ardeidae. The genus Ardea contains the larger herons. Ardea species are generally (but not always) darker than the egrets of the genus Egretta, and lack powder down patches on the thighs. Most are solitary nesters. Authors have differed over the assignment of some heron species to Ardea or related genera but the core… Continue reading Ardea


Belongs within: Aequornithia. The Threskiornithidae, ibises and spoonbills, are long-legged and -billed wading birds that generally feed on small invertebrates. Synapomorphies of the group include a schizorhinal beak with the proximal part of the maxilla dorsoventrally high below the narial openings, and at least three thoracic vertebrae fused to a notarium (Mayr 2002). Previous authors… Continue reading Threskiornithidae


Belongs within: Aequornithia.Contains: Ixobrychus, Egretta, Nycticorax, Butorides, Ardea. The Ardeidae include the herons and bitterns, long-billed and -legged fishing birds found worldwide. Characters of the group include a short tail, powder down patches on the breast, rump and sometimes the thighs, and serrations used for grooming along the side of the central forward-directed toe. Basal… Continue reading Ardeidae


Belongs within: Aequornithia. The Pelecanidae includes the pelicans, distinctive large fishing birds with elongate bills subtended by an expansive gular pouch. Pelicans use this pouch to scoop up water containing fish, straining it out and then swallowing their prey. All living species of pelican are included in the genus Pelecanus. The brown pelican P. occidentalis… Continue reading Pelecanidae


Belongs within: Procellariiformes. The Oceanitinae includes the southern storm petrels, small seabirds mostly found in the Southern Hemisphere that differ from the similar northern storm petrels of the Hydrobatinae in their nearly square tails. They feed by ‘walking’ along the surface of the water, picking small animals from the surface. Wilson’s storm petrel Oceanites oceanicus… Continue reading Oceanitidae


Belongs within: Aequornithia.Contains: Phalacrocorax. The Sulida or Suloidea are the clade including Sulidae (gannets and boobies), Anhingidae (darters) and Phalacrocoracidae (shags or cormorants). All members of this clade are diving fish-eating birds. The darters or anhingas of the Anhingidae, all living species of which are placed in the single genus Anhinga, are a pantropical group… Continue reading Sulida


Belongs within: Sulida. Phalacrocorax is a genus of cormorants or shags. There is no formal distinction between these names though there has been a historical tendency for the name ‘cormorant’ to apply to freshwater forms and ‘shag’ to marine birds. However, this usage has not been invariable and many species may be found in either… Continue reading Phalacrocorax