BIRD FAMILIES OF THE WORLD
 
 
a web page by Don Roberson
BIRD FAMILIES OF THE WORLD

14th edition

list last revised May 2016
this list has 249 extant families

The purpose of Bird Families of the World is as an aid to world birders who want to maximize their enjoyment of avian diversity by observing examples of as many bird families as is reasonable within the time and money available for travel, and as a study tool for all interested readers. This project began in 1999. DNA evidence has revised much of what was thought to be known about bird evolution and relationships. It has been the 'wild wild West' in recent years as new research was published but, perhaps, a greater degree of consensus is now being reached. While tracking proposed revisions to the list of bird families, I've advocated for more consistency in the use of evidence across bird groupings, and have not also followed the latest trends.

For this 14th edition, the changes highlighted below bring my list to 249 extant families.

 
This web project began on 9 Feb 1999 when I posted a short page on the Dulidae [Palmchat]. While the list of Bird Families has been regularly updated to accommodate new research through 14 editions, it was not until 17 years and a month [6238 days] that, with the posting of the Vireonidae [Vireos], the project finally has a web page with text and photos for every family. Many of the old pages badly need updating in both layout, text, and photos but at least the initial goal has been reached. The updating of old pages — including the Dulidae — will go on. I've used my own photos when I had them, but I'm very grateful to the many photographers around the world who've permitted me to use their wonderful shots when I needed them.               – D. Roberson, 9 Mar 2016

In putting together this list, I've been influenced by the Handbook of the Birds of the World (HBW) project, updated decisions of the Clements world checklist, the IOC world checklist, the American Ornithologists' Union Checklist for Middle and North America, the South American Classification Committee, and John Boyd's Avian Taxonomy in Flux with his personal phylogeny. Research books include Christidis & Boles (2008) Systematics & taxonomy of Australian Birds and the Howard & Moore Checklist (4th ed., 2 vols). [Full disclosure — I have been a volunteer junior member of the Clements team since 2011 but I continue to depart from Clements for purposes of this project; see below.]

HIGHTLIGHTS OF CHANGES in this 14th edition

Influential new publications include two major efforts which combine molecular and fossil evidence to construct a comprehensive phylogeny of birds [Prum et al. 2015, Claramunt & Cracraft 2015]. There are significant differences between these two papers but there is a sense that we are getting closer to an accurate picture of bird evolution. Jønsson et al. (2016) published a detailed phylogeny of corvoid birds, verifying various lineages within the Australo-Papuan region proposed earlier by other [e.g., Schodde & Christidis 2014, Pratt & Beehler 2015]. This paper is primarily responsible for the addition of six new families. With the help of those papers, and Barker et al. (2013), I have re-ordered the sequence of families a fair bit, but I have not yet gone "the full Monty" [maybe next time]. It seems like the clades including Mesites, Sandgrouse and Pigeons and that of Nightjars, Swifts and Hummingbirds [Caprimulgidae to Trochilidae] arose much earlier in the evolution of birds, and that these Families should appear much higher in the sequence, while those including Loons, procellarids, and waders should be bumped back a fair bit. If adopted, this will disarrange the 'usual' sequence in field guides. For the moment, this listing is an imperfect compromise between the new and old.

One new family is recognized early in this sequence: Austral Storm-Petrels [Oceanitidae] is split from Northern Storm-Petrels [Hydrobatidae]. Two families have been lost: Emu has been merged into the Casuariidae, and Diving-Petrels prove to be embedded within the Procellariidae.

Jønsson et al. (2016) elevated six new Families in Australasia: Ploughbill [Eulacestomatidae], Shrike-tit [Falcunculidae], Ifrita [Ifritidae], Silktails [Lamproliidae], Melampittas [Melampittidae], and Berryhunter [Rhagologidae; the old "Mottled Whistler"]. All of these lineages are at least 22 million years old. Jønsson et al. (2016) suggested that the bell-magpies [Cracticidae] be merged with wood-swallows [Artamidae] because they just miss the chosen degree of ancientness for Family level taxa. I do not favor 'strict' cut-offs like this, and the two set of birds are readily recognizable and are undoubtedly ancient lineages [i.e., they are much older than the clades proposed as Families in Barker et al. (2016)]. See more on this topic — a preference for some consistency in defining a "bird family" —in a Further Essay on 'Defining' a Bird Family (below, following the list of Families). I don't mind splitting younger clades in the passerines and requiring much older lineages in the non-passerines but in my view there should be greater effort at consistency within the passerines.

I had previously avoided a three-split in Babblers [Timaliidae] but these splits seem well-established in other global checklist, so now add
Tree-Babblers
[Timaliidae], Ground-Babblers [Pellorneidae], and Laughingthrushes [Leiothrichidae ]. I have also dithered about how to handle the recommendations of Barker et al. (2013) as to raising various Caribbean landbirds to Family level. Mostly I've been conservative or taken a middle path; now, I take a middle road and follow Dickinson & Christidis (2014) to merge Cuban warblers (Teretistris) with Wrenthrush in the new family Zeledoniidae.

Net result: + 9 families

There has been a trend towards higher numbers of Families in recent years — welcomed by some, criticized by others — and that has played havoc with longterm travel plans by (some) birders. I understand that a new book on Bird Families, Winkler et al. (2015) has 243 families.

I continue to accept a few families not included by Clements, IOC, or Howard & Moore (Dickinson et al. 2003, 2013). The current (Aug 2015) Clements list has 234 extant families. I depart from Clements by elevating 8 groups as Families that Clements does not currently accept [Shrike-babblers, Erpornis, Bristle-flycatchers, Hylias, Cinnamon Ibon, the 8 new families in this edition, and the five new families in the 13th edition]. Adopting two more families of babblers is offset by the two lumped 5 in the last edition. The current IOC list has 241 extant families, plus 8 or more incertae sedis. The ambiguity in the latter makes it difficult to compare that list to other lists. Among some differences, IOC accepts Arcanatoridae [Dapplethroat & allies]; Scotocercidae [Scrub Warbler Scotocerca inquieta; Fregin et al. 2012]; and Coerebidae [Bananaquit]. I continue to lump Dapplethroat et al. with Sugarbirds, awaiting further evidence; the proposed "Scotorercidae" is neither distinctive nor sufficiently ancient [see a 2012 essay in the 12th edition]; and Bananaquit seems to be a tanager (Burns et al. 2014).
My listing is of extant bird families. The Mohoidae, an endemic family from Hawaii that included 5 species in genus Moho and one in genus Chaetoptila that had traditionally been considered honeyeaters in the Meliphagidae. Genetic evidence proved they were not honeyeaters, but that they were related to silky-flycatchers, waxwings, and other bombycillids. The Mohoidae is now extinct, so it is not possible to search for any of its members. The last remaining species was Kauai Oo, last proven alive in 1987, and now considered extinct. Thus, when comparing number of families between various list, it is important to use the list of extant families. Clements states this number explicitly; IOC apparently does not.

HIGHLIGHTS OF CHANGES in the 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th and 12th editions are now available through this separate link to the 12th edition (2012). The footnotes and citations in the 13th edition are now at a separate link to the 13th edition (2015).

This site is not affiliated with the Handbook project but I highly recommend the books; click on the banner below

Every family has a link to a separate web page, with photos, that I created over the years. Some are now very dated and badly need revision.
Non-passerine families
Struthionidae Ostrich  Rallidae Rails Trochilidae Hummingbirds
Rheidae Rheas Psophiidae Trumpeters Opisthocomidae Hoatzin
Tinamidae Tinamous Aramidae Limpkin Cathartidae New World Vultures
Casuariidae Cassowaries & Emu Gruidae Cranes Sagittariidae Secretarybird
Apterygidae Kiwis Burhinidae Thick-knees Pandionidae Osprey
Anhimidae Screamers Charadriidae Plovers Accipitridae Hawks & Eagles
Anserantidae Magpie-Goose Haematopodidae Oystercatchers Tytonidae Barn Owls & allies
Anatidae Ducks, Geese & Swans Recurvirostridae Stilts & Avocets Strigidae Owls
Megapodiidae Megapodes  Ibidorhynchidae Ibisbill Coliidae Mousebirds
Cracidae Curassows & Guans Chionidae Sheathbills Leptosomidae Cuckoo-Roller
Numididae Guineafowl Pluvianellidae Magellanic Plover Trogonidae Trogons
Odontophoridae New World Quails Pluvianidae Egyptian Plover Upupidae Hoopoes
Phasianidae Pheasants, Partridges, Grouse & Turkeys Pedionomidae Plains-wanderer Phoeniculidae Woodhoopoes & Scimitarbills
Phoenicopteridae Flamingos Thinocoridae Seedsnipes Bucorvidae Ground-Hornbills
Podicipedidae Grebes Rostratulidae Painted-snipe Bucerotidae Hornbills
Rhynochetidae Kagu Jacanidae Jaçanas Meropidae Bee-eaters
Eurypygidae Sunbittern  Scolopacidae Sandpipers, Snipes & Phalaropes Coraciidae Rollers
Phaethontidae Tropicbirds Turnicidae Buttonquails Brachypteraciidae Ground-Rollers
Gaviidae Loons Dromadidae Crab Plover Todidae Todies
Spheniscidae Penguins Glareolidae Coursers & Pratincoles Momotidae Motmots
Diomedeidae Albatrosses Stercorariidae Skuas & Jaegers Alcedinidae Kingfishers
Oceanitidae Austral Storm-Petrels Alcidae Auks Galbulidae Jacamars
Hydrobatidae Northern Storm-Petrels Laridae Gulls, Terns, Skimmers Bucconidae Puffbirds
Procellariidae Petrels, Diving-Petrels, & Shearwaters Mesitornithidae Mesites Indicatoridae Honeyguides
Ciconiidae Storks Pteroclidae Sandgrouse Picidae Woodpeckers
Fregatidae Frigatebirds Columbidae Pigeons & Doves Megalaimidae Asian Barbets
Sulidae Boobies Musophagidae Turacos & Allies Lybiidae African Barbets & Tinkerbirds
Phalacrocoracidae Cormorants Otididae Bustards Capitonidae New World Barbets
Anhingidae Darters Cuculidae Cuckoos, Coucals & Anis Semnornithidae Toucan-Barbets
Threskiornithidae Ibises & Spoonbills Caprimulgidae Nightjars & Nighthawks Ramphastidae Toucans
Ardeidae Herons Steatornithidae Oilbird Cariamidae Seriemas
Scopidae Hamerkop Nyctibiidae Potoos Falconidae Falcons & Caracaras
Balaenicipitidae Shoebill Podargidae Frogmouths Strigopidae New Zealand Parrots
Pelecanidae Pelicans Aegothelidae Owlet-Nightjars Cacatuidae Cockatoos
Heliornithidae Finfoots Apodidae Swifts Psittaculidae Lories, Lovebirds & Old World Parrots
Sarothruridae Flufftails  Hemiprocnidae Treeswifts Psittacidae New World & Gray Parrots
Passerine families
Acanthisittidae New Zealand Wrens  Corcoracidae Apostlebirds Timaliidae Tree-Babblers & allies
Pittidae Pittas Paradisaeidae Birds-of-Paradise Pellorneidae Ground-Babblers & allies
Philepittidae Asities Monarchidae Monarchs & allies Leiothrichidae Laughingthrushes & allies
Eurylaimidae Asian & Grauer's Broadbills Ifritidae Ifrita Sittidae Nuthatches
Sapayoidae Sapayoa Campephagidae Cuckooshrikes Tichodromidae Wallcreeper
Calyptomenidae African & Green Broadbills Vangidae Vangas, Helmetshrikes, Woodshrikes & allies Certhiidae Treecreepers
Thamnophilidae Typical Antbirds  Platysteiridae Batises, Wattle-eyes & allies Troglodytidae Wrens
Melanopareiidae Crescentchests Pityriaseidae Bristlehead Polioptilidae Gnatcatchers
Conopophagidae Gnateaters Malaconotidae Bush-Shrikes Cinclidae Dippers
Grallariidae Antpittas Aegithinidae Ioras Regulidae Kinglets
Rhinocryptidae Tapaculos Machaerirhynchidae Boatbills Muscicapidae Old World Flycatchers & Chats
Formicariidae Antthrushes Rhagologidae Berryhunter Turdidae Thrushes
Furnariidae Ovenbirds, Miners, Leaftossers & Woodcreepers Artamidae Woodswallows Mimidae Thrashers & Mimids
Tyrannidae Tyrant Flycatchers Cracticidae Butcherbirds & allies Sturnidae Starlings, Mynas & Rhabdornises
Oxyruncidae Sharpbill Neosittidae Sittellas Buphagidae Oxpeckers
Cotingidae Cotingas Callaeidae New Zealand Wattlebirds Dulidae Palmchat
Pipridae Manakins Notiomystidae Stitchbird Hypocoliidae Hypocolius
Tityridae Tityras, Becards & allies  Melanocharitidae Berrypeckers & Longbills Hylocitreidae Hylocitrea
Menuridae Lyrebirds Cnemophilidae Satinbirds Bombycillidae Waxwings
Atrichornithidae Scrub-birds Picathartidae Rockfowl Ptilogonatidae Silky-flycatchers
Ptilonorhynchidae Bowerbirds  Eupetidae Rail-babbler Elachuridae Elachura
Climacteridae Australasian Treecreepers Chaetopidae Rockjumpers Promeropidae Sugarbirds & allies
Maluridae Fairywrens & Grasswrens Petroicidae Australo-Papuan Robins Irenidae Fairy-Bluebirds
Dasyornithidae Bristlebirds Hyliotidae Hyliotas Chloropseidae Leafbirds
Meliphagidae Honeyeaters & allies Stenostiridae Fairy Flycatchers Dicaeidae Flowerpeckers
Pardalotidae Pardalotes Paridae Tits & Chickadees Nectariniidae Sunbirds & Spiderhunters
Acanthizidae Australo-Papuan Warblers Remizidae Penduline Tits Prunellidae Accentors
Orthonychidae Logrunners Alaudidae Larks Peucedramidae Olive Warbler
Pomatostomidae Pseudo-babblers Panuridae Bearded Reedling Urocynchramidae Przevalski's Finch
Mohouidae Mohouids Nicatoridae Nicators Ploceidae Weavers
Pachycephalidae Whistlers, Shrike-Thrushes & allies Macrosphenidae Crombecs & African Warblers Estrildidae Waxbills, Munias & allies
Oriolidae Old World Orioles, Figbirds & true Pitohuis Cisticolidae Cisticolas & allies Viduidae Whydahs & Indigobirds
Oreoicidae Australo-Papuan Bellbirds Acrocephalidae Reed-Warblers & allies Hypocryptadiidae Cinnamon Ibon
Psophodidae Whipbirds & Wedgebills Pnoepygidae Cupwings Passeridae Old World Sparrows
Cinclosomatidae Quail-Thrushes & Jewel-Babblers Locustellidae Grassbirds & allies Motacillidae Pipits & Wagtails
Falcunculidae Shrike-Tit Donacobiidae Donacobius Fringillidae Finches, Euphonias, & allies including Hawaiian Honeycreepers
Eulacestomatidae Ploughbill Bernieridae Malagasy Warblers Calcariidae Longspurs & Snow Buntings
Paramythiidae Painted Berrypeckers Hirundinidae Swallows & Martins Rhodinocichlidae Rosy Thrush-tanager
Vireonidae Vireos & allies Pycnonotidae Bulbuls Emberizidae Old World Buntings
Erpornithidae Erpornis Phylloscopidae Leaf-Warblers Passerellidae New World Sparrows 
Pteruthiidae Shrike-babblers Aegithalidae Long-tailed Tits Parulidae New World Warblers
Dicruridae Drongos Hyliidae Hylias Zeledoniidae Wrenthrush & Cuban Warblers
Lamproliidae Silktails Erythrocercidae Bristle-flycatchers  Icteridae Icterids
Rhipiduridae Fantails Cettiidae Bush-Warblers, Stubtails & allied cettids Phaenicophilidae Spindalises & Caribbean tanagers
Laniidae Shrikes Sylviidae Sylvids Mitrospingidae Mitrospingid tanagers
Corvidae Crows, Jays & allies Paradoxornithidae Parrotbills, Fulvettas & allies Cardinalidae Cardinals, Grosbeaks & allies
Melampittidae Melampittas Zosteropidae White-eyes, Yuhinas & allies Thraupidae Tanagers
As a personal project, I have posted a 16 page set of my efforts
to see all the bird families (and proposed families) and to photograph
most of them; the gallery of photos begins with an introduction

Literature cited in this introduction:

Barker, F.K., K.J. Burns, J. Klicka, S.M. Lanyon, and I.J. Lovette. 2013. Going to extremes: contrasting rates of diversification in a recent radiation of New World passerine birds. Syst. Biol. 62: 298–320.

Burns, K.J., A.J. Schultz, P.O. Title, N.A. Mason, F.K. Barker, J. Klicka, S.M. Lanyon, and I.J. Lovette. 2014. Phylogenetics and diversification of tanagers (Passeriformes: Thraupidae), the largest radiation of Neotropical songbirds. Molec. Phylo. Evol. 75: 41-77.

Claramunt. S., and J. Cracraft. 2015. A new time tree reveals Earth history’s imprint on the evolution of modern birds. Science Advances: Vol. 1, no. 11.

Dickinson, E.C., and L. Christidis. 2014. The Howard and Moore Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World: Passerines Vol. 2. Aves Press, Eastbourne, U.K.

Jønsson, K.A., P-H. Fabre, J.D. Kennedy, B.G. Holt, M.K. Borregaard, C. Rahbek, and J. Fjeldså. 2016. A supermatrix phylogeny of corvoid passerine birds (Aves: Corvides). Molec. Phylog. Evol. 94: 87-94.

Pratt, T.K., and B.M. Beehler. 2015. Birds of New Guinea. 2d ed. Princeton Univ. Press, Princeton, N.J.

Prum, R.O., J.S. Bery, A. Dornburg, D.J. Field, J.P. Townsend, E.M. Lemmon, and A.R. Lemmon. 2015. A comprehensive phylogeny of birds (Aves) using targeted next-generation DNA sequencing. Nature 526: 569–573.

Schodde, R., and L. Christidis. 2014. Relicts from Tertiary Australasia: undescribed families and subfamilies of songbirds (Passeriformes) and their zoogeographic signal. Zootaxa 3786: 501-522.

Winkler, D.W., S.W. Billerman, and I.J. Lovette. 2015. Birds Families of the World: A Guide to the Spectacular Diversity of Birds. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.


From the 13th edition
An further essay on
'Defining' a Bird Family
[March 2014]

As is sometimes said, defining the limits of a bird Family is “more art than science.” Ornithologists do not yet have a formal definition of this ordinal level. In 2012, in an essay on this site that was an effort to define Family level status in passerines, I wrote that “I have evolved a preference for Family level taxa to be (a) distinctive and diagnosable and (b) to have been evolving on their own evolutionary path since at least the early Miocene (i.e., 16-23 mya). I don't advocate drawing any hard lines as to how old a clade must be for Family status — indeed, many lineages of birds appear to be diversifying at different rates — but younger monophyletic lineages may be better addressed as subfamilies. Families should be ancient and distinctive.”

New research (Burns et al. 2014), a review of prior papers (e.g., Graur & Martin 2004, Pereira & Baker 2006), and commentary on BirdForum and elsewhere have compelled a modification of my prior summary. The evidence for differences in the rate of diversification among bird lineages continues to grow. Barker et al. (2013) explain that:

“Our crown-clade estimate of diversification rate (without extinction) in this lineage [Thraupidae] is . . . nearly 40% above the average for the 9-primaried oscine clade as a whole. . . This high rate is comparable, for example, rates estimates for Hawaiian silverswords [a plant] although lower than estimated rates of from other putative radiation (e.g., salamanders of the Plethodon glutinous group) . . . It is nearly an order of magnitude higher than the pure birth estimate for vertebrates as a whole … and 5 times the estimated net diversification rate of Neoaves. These estimates suggest that diversification of this lineage [Thraupidae tanagers] has made a substantial contribution to the remarkably high overall diversity of the Neoaves.”

A detailed study of the Thraupidae found that within that lineage, the diversification rates of several “finch” lineages – and especially Darwin’s finches – were exceptional, “even when compared to the overall rapid rate of diversification within tanager.” If diversification rates are different among various evolutionary lineages, then it makes rational sense to develop the construct of a “Family” in light of those differences.

Sibley & Ahlquist (1990) once attempted to define ordinal levels of bird diversity within specific limits of “melting curves” when molecular relationships were viewed from DNA-DNA hybridization studies. This proved essentially unworkable. Now, with direct sequencing of genetic evidence available, we are closer to understanding the timing of evolutionary changes – especially when molecular signals are constrained against the background of the fossil and geologic evidence – and yet no single approach has gained wide acceptance.

In the prior essay, I expressed a preference that Family level taxa in the passerines be those clades that had been “evolving on their own evolutionary path since at least the early Miocene (i.e., 16-23 mya).” This definition does not work well if applied to, say, waterfowl or parrots or other non-passerines. Most if not all of the currently accepted Families in non-passerines are much older. My passerine definition would, if applied to parrots, produce at least 11 families of parrots, and probably more (based on evidence in Rheindt et al. 2014, which did not include all the parrot lineages). In the other direction, my definition, if applied to the nine-primaried passerines, would create one huge Emberizidae, with tanagers, New World warblers, icterids, cardinals/grosbeaks all reduced to subfamilies. [Indeed, for a short time the AOU adopted that concept, following Sibley & Ahlquist (1990).]

A modification of the concept is necessary. Again, it is reiterated that I do not propose any certain time limit should be used to standardize Family level status, even within an Order. Rather, bird diversity can be expressed at the Family level by preferring that such Family level taxa be

  1. monophyletic;
  2. distinctive and diagnosable;
  3. of ancient lineage, consistent with the history of the Order involved;
  4. for most Passerines, to have been evolving independently since at least the early Miocene (i.e., 16-23 mya);
  5. for nine-primaried Passerines, to have been evolving independently since at least the mid-Miocene (i.e., 10-11 mya);
  6. to preserve stability in Family level taxa when possible within the rule of monophyly, and
  7. to avoid unnecessarily monotypic (single species) Families of non-ancient and non-distinctive lineage in the Passeriformes when that can be accomplished within the rule of monophyly.

Applying this expanded preference to new evidence (e.g., Barker et al. 2013, Burns et al. 2014, Alström et al. 2014), I have added five new passerine families in my 13th ed. list. One is Asia and five are from the New World. Alström et al. (2014) discovered that Spotted “Wren-Babbler" Elachura formosa of the eastern Himalayas is an early offshoot of the lineage leading to the Bombyciloidea (waxwings and allies). They proposed Family rank for this lineage, the monotypic Elachuridae. As the lineage is ancient; their proposal has been widely accepted.

The New World situation is more complex. Barker et al. (2013) produced a multilocus phylogenetic analysis of the nine-primaried passerine radiation in the New World, and proposed it be divided into 16 families. Some of those are long-familiar families [e.g., New World Warblers, Tanagers, Icterids] and some only recently accepted [Longspurs & Snow Bunting] but ten are brand-new Family proposals. I agree with Barker et al. (2013) that a conservative approach is to “minimize changes to higher level avian classification and to continue to rank the lineages within [the nine-primaried passerines] as Families.”

To retain the old familiar families, such as Parulidae and Icteridae, means accepting as a Family some lineages that are only 10-11 million years old. Doing so recognizes the rapid rate of diversification in these birds, compared to all other bird groups, and helps to structure the phylogeny of this species-rich radiation. I think that at this moment in time, the same diversity can be shown with the addition of just four New World families, instead of the ten proposed by Barker et al. (2013). One of them is a monotypic family [Rhodinocichlidae] for Rosy Thrush-Tanager Rhodinocichla rosea, and it is moderately ancient at about 14 mya. The remaining splits are less old (10-13 mya) but single-species families of younger age can be avoided without violating monophyly, at least on the current evidence. The splits that must occur to avoid polyphyletic families are these three: (a) to split the Old World Buntings [Emberizidae] from New World Sparrows [Passerellidae]; (b) to create a new family [Mitrospingidae] from 3 genera of “tanagers” (Mitrospingus, Lamprospiza, Orthogonys) that are neither Tanagers nor Cardinals (I call them the "Mitrospingid tanagers"); and (c) to create a new family [Phaenicophilidae] from the lineage of “tanager-like” birds on Caribbean islands. Barker et al. (2013) had proposed these as four families, 3 of which were single-species families. There is little doubt from their evidence that genera Phaenicophilus, Xenoligea, Microligea, Nesospingus, and Spindalis are all more closely related to each other than to other species, and can easily form a Family grouping. Genus Calyptophilus [two chat-tanagers from Hispaniola] is less certain, but its placement in their phylogeny is only “weakly supported” and, if the “species tree” in their Figure 8 is used, fits closely with the other Caribbean lineages. For the moment it seems best to tentatively place the chat-tanagers with the other Caribbean species in a single Family.

This leaves unresolved the position of Zeledonia [wren-thrush], Teretistris [two Cuban warblers], and Icteria [Yellow-breasted Chat]. Currently these are assigned to the Parulidae (New World Warblers) but some (especially the chat) may be closer to Icterids. The situation is not yet fully resolved. For the moment, the conservative approach is to leave these three intriguing genera in Parulidae, pending further research. However, the wise world birder might consider planning trips to Costa Rica (for Zeledonia) or Cuba (for Teretistris).

Older essays, a long list of prior literature cited, and footnotes [now discontinued]
are found at the bottom of the 13th ed of this Checklist
 
     
 
I thank the editors of the Handbook of the Birds of the World project; the late G. Stuart Keith, co-author Birds of Africa series; the late James Clements, author of the Clements' world checklists; Keith Barker, Frank Gill, Murray Lord, Tom Schulenberg, and Van Remsen for sharing with me ideas and concepts about the taxonomy and arrangement of a listing of bird families of the world. I appreciate their input, but all the decisions reflected in the above listing are mine, including all the errors.
 
     
 

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all text & photos © Don Roberson, except as otherwise indicated; all rights reserved