The Sibley-Ahlquist taxonomy is a radical new approach to bird taxonomy based on DNA studies which gives an arrangement differing greatly from the more traditional approach. The major changes in classification of birds at order level are as follows:

  • ANSERIFORMES - unchanged
  • Enlarged STRUTHIONIFORMES replaces the ratite orders Rheiformes rheas, Casuariiformes cassowaries, and Apterygiformes kiwis and Struthioniformes ostriches
  • New enlarged CICONIIFORMES includes the previous Sphenisciformes penguins, Gaviiformes divers, Podicipediformes grebes, Procellariiformes tubenoses, Pelecaniformes pelicans & allies, Ciconiiformes storks & allies, Falconiformes birds of prey, Charadriiformes waders gulls terns and auks.
  • New CRACIFORMES chachalacas etc. Previously Galliformes
  • New STRIGIFORMES owls enlarged to include Caprimulgiformes nightjars

  • New TROCHILIFORMES hummingbirds. Previously Apodiformes.

  • New GALBULIFORMES jacamars, previously Piciformes


This revolutionary reordering in classification of birds has been widely accepted by North American ornithologists, including the American Ornithologists' Union, but in other parts of the world its effect has been more evolutionary: it has been a respected major influence on existing classification schemes, as opposed to a complete replacement for them.

classification diagramA more recent paper looked at the ancestry of bird groups. The traditional view of avian evolution places ratites and tinamous at the base of the tree of modern birds (Neornithes), followed by old marine groups such as the penguins, grebes and divers (loons). The new research suggested that the ducks and gallinaceous birds are each other's closest relatives and together form the basal lineage of neognathous birds. The ratites and tinamous will now be followed by the ducks and their allies, and then the pheasants and their allies. This latter research has been accepted by the British Ornithologists' Union, and their list will now start with Anseriformes and Galliformes.
The Sibley-Monroe checklist, multiple parts:


Above article originally from Wikipedia and is available under GNU Free Documentation License


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