Last updated: 20/01/2017 [Design & Pictures by Simons Nature]
Aves

Aves [Birds]

Birds (Aves), also known as avian dinosaurs, are a group of endothermic vertebrates, characterised by feathers, toothless beaked jaws, the laying of hard-shelled eggs, a high metabolic rate, a four-chambered heart, and a lightweight but strong skeleton. Birds live worldwide and range in size from the 5 cm (2 in) bee hummingbird to the 2.75 m (9 ft) ostrich. They rank as the class of tetrapods with the most living species, at approximately ten thousand, with more than half of these being passerines, sometimes known as perching birds or, less accurately, as songbirds. The fossil record indicates that birds are the last surviving group of dinosaurs, having evolved from feathered ancestors within the theropod group of saurischian dinosaurs. True birds first appeared during the Cretaceous period, around 100 million years ago.
The Accipitriformes are an order that includes most of the diurnal birds of prey: hawks, eagles, vultures, and many others, about 225 species in all. For a long time, the majority view has been to include them with the falcons in the Falconiformes, but many authorities have recognized a separate Accipitriformes. As of 2008, a recent DNA study indicated that falcons are not closely related to the Accipitriformes, being instead related to parrots and passerines.
Anseriformes is an order of birds that comprises about 180 living species in three families: Anhimidae (the screamers), Anseranatidae (the magpie goose), and Anatidae, the largest family, which includes over 170 species of waterfowl, among them the ducks, geese, and swans.
Traditionally, the bird order Apodiformes contained three living families: the swifts (Apodidae), the tree swifts (Hemiprocnidae), and the hummingbirds (Trochilidae). In the Sibley-Ahlquist taxonomy, this order is raised to a superorder Apodimorphae in which hummingbirds are separated as a new order, Trochiliformes. With nearly 450 species identified to date, they are the most diverse order of birds after the passerines.
Bucerotiformes is an order that contains the hornbills, hoopoe and wood hoopoes. Sometimes classified as members of Coraciiformes although increasing amount of evidence seem to support these birds being distinctive enough to warrant their own order.
The Caprimulgiformes is an order of birds that includes a number of birds with global distribution (except Antarctica). They are generally insectivorous and nocturnal. The order gets its name from the Latin for "goat-milker", an old name based on an erroneous view of the European nightjar's feeding habits.
Cariamiformes (or Cariamae) is an order of primarily flightless birds that has existed for over 60 million years. The group includes the family Cariamidae (seriemas) and the extinct families Phorusrhacidae, Bathornithidae, Idiornithidae and Ameghinornithidae. Though traditionally considered as a suborder of Gruiformes, both morphological and genetic studies show that they belong to a separate group of birds, Australaves, whose other living members are Falconidae, Psittaciformes and Passeriformes.
The order Cathartiformes is an order of raptors or birds of prey that include the New World vultures and the now extinct teratornithidae. Sometimes these raptors are classified in the related order Accipitriformes (which include the like eagles and hawks), but they are now considered a separate but closely related order.
Charadriiformes is a diverse order of small to medium-large birds. It includes about 350 species and has members in all parts of the world. Most Charadriiformes live near water and eat invertebrates or other small animals; however, some are pelagic (seabirds), some occupy deserts and a few are found in thick forest.
Storks are large, long-legged, long-necked wading birds with long, stout bills. They belong to the family Ciconiidae. They are the only family in the order Ciconiiformes, which was once much larger and held a number of families.
The mousebirds (family Coliidae, order Coliiformes) are a family of birds. They are the sister group to the clade Eucavitaves, which includes the cuckoo roller (Leptosomatiformes), trogons (Trogoniformes), Bucerotiformes, Coraciformes and Piciformes. The mousebirds are therefore given order status as Coliiformes. This group is confined to sub-Saharan Africa, and is the only bird order confined entirely to that continent. They had a wider range in prehistoric times and apparently evolved in Europe.
Pigeons and doves constitute the bird family Columbidae, which includes about 310 species. Pigeons and doves are stout-bodied birds with short necks, and short slender bills (and in some species, these bills feature fleshy ceres). They primarily feed on seeds, fruits, and plants.
The Coraciiformes are a group of usually colorful birds including the kingfishers, the bee-eaters, the rollers, the motmots, and the todies. They generally have syndactyly, with three forward-pointing toes (and toes 3 & 4 fused at their base), though in many kingfishers one of these is missing.
The cuckoos are a family of birds, Cuculidae, the sole taxon in the order Cuculiformes. The cuckoo family includes the common or European cuckoo, roadrunners, koels, malkohas, couas, coucals and anis. The coucals and anis are sometimes separated as distinct families, the Centropodidae and Crotophagidae respectively.
The falcons and caracaras are around 60 species of diurnal birds of prey that make up the family Falconidae. The family is divided into two subfamilies, Polyborinae, which includes the caracaras and forest falcons, and Falconinae, the falcons, kestrels and falconets (Microhierax and Spiziapteryx). They differ from the eagles of Accipitridae, in that falcons kill with their beaks instead of their taloned feet. They have a "tooth" on the side of their beak for the purpose.
The Galliformes are an order of heavy-bodied ground-feeding birds that includes turkey, grouse, chicken, New World quail and Old World quail, ptarmigan, partridge, pheasant, junglefowl and the Cracidae. The name derives from "gallus", Latin for "cock" or "rooster". Common names are gamefowl or gamebirds, landfowl, gallinaceous birds, or galliforms.
Gaviiformes is an order of aquatic birds containing the loons or divers and their closest extinct relatives. Modern gaviiformes are found in many parts of North America and northern Eurasia (Europe, Asia and debatably Africa), though prehistoric species were more widespread.
The Gruiformes are an order containing a considerable number of living and extinct bird families, with a widespread geographical diversity. Gruiform means "crane-like". Traditionally, a number of wading and terrestrial bird families that did not seem to belong to any other order were classified together as Gruiformes.
The turacos make up the bird family Musophagidae (literally "banana-eaters"), which includes plantain-eaters and go-away-birds. In southern Africa both turacos and go-away-birds are commonly known as louries. They are semi-zygodactylous – the fourth (outer) toe can be switched back and forth. The second and third toes, which always point forward, are conjoined in some species.
Opisthocomidae is a group of birds, the only named family within the order Opisthocomiformes. The only living representative is the hoatzin (Opisthocomus hoazin) which lives in the Amazon and the Orinoco delta in South America. Several fossil species have been identified, including one from Africa and one from Europe.
Bustards, including floricans and korhaans, are large, terrestrial birds living mainly in dry grassland areas and on the steppes of the Old World. They range in length from 40 to 150 cm (16 to 59 in). They make up the family Otididae (formerly known as Otidae). Bustards are omnivorous and opportunistic, eating leaves, buds, seeds, fruit, small vertebrates, and invertebrates.
A passerine is any bird of the order Passeriformes, which includes more than half of all bird species. A notable feature of passerines compared to other orders of Aves is the arrangement of their toes, three pointing forward and one back, which facilitates perching. Sometimes known as perching birds or, less accurately, as songbirds, the passerines form one of the most diverse terrestrial vertebrate orders, with over 5,000 identified species.
The Pelecaniformes is an order of medium-sized and large waterbirds found worldwide. As traditionally—but erroneously—defined, they encompass all birds that have feet with all four toes webbed. Hence, they were formerly also known by such names as totipalmates or steganopodes. Most have a bare throat patch (gular patch), and the nostrils have evolved into dysfunctional slits, forcing them to breathe through their mouths.
Tropicbirds are a family, Phaethontidae, of tropical pelagic seabirds now classified in their own order Phaethontiformes. Their relationship to other living birds is unclear, and they appear to have no close relatives. There are three species in one genus, Phaethon. The scientific names are derived from Ancient Greek phaethon, "sun". They have predominantly white plumage with elongated tail feathers and small feeble legs and feet.
Phoenicopteriformes is a group of water bird including the flamingos and their extinct relatives. Flamingos and their relatives are well attested in the fossil record, with the first unequivocal member of the Phoenicopteridae, Elornis known from the late Eocene epoch. An extinct family of peculiar "swimming flamingos", the Palaelodidae, are believed to be the closest relatives of the modern flamingos, with the extinct genus Juncitarsus slightly more primitive than the group which contains flamingos and grebes (Mirandornithes).
Nine families of largely arboreal birds make up the order Piciformes, the best-known of them being the Picidae, which includes the woodpeckers and close relatives. The Piciformes contain about 67 living genera with a little over 400 species, of which the Picidae (woodpeckers and relatives) make up about half.
The frogmouths are a group of nocturnal birds related to the nightjars. They are found from the Indian Subcontinent across Southeast Asia to Australia.
A grebe (/ˈɡriːb/) is a member of the order Podicipediformes and the only type of bird associated with this order. Grebes are a widely distributed order of freshwater diving birds, some of which visit the sea when migrating and in winter. This order contains only a single family, the Podicipedidae, containing 22 species in 6 extant genera.
Procellariiformes is an order of seabirds that comprises four families: the albatrosses, petrels and shearwaters, storm petrels, and diving petrels. Formerly called Tubinares and still called tubenoses in English, they are often referred to collectively as the petrels, a term that has been applied to all Procellariiformes, or more commonly all the families except the albatrosses.
Parrots, also known as psittacines /ˈsɪtəsaɪnz/, are birds of the roughly 393 species in 92 genera that make up the order Psittaciformes, found in most tropical and subtropical regions. The order is subdivided into three superfamilies: the Psittacoidea ("true" parrots), the Cacatuoidea (cockatoos), and the Strigopoidea (New Zealand parrots). Parrots have a generally pantropical distribution with several species inhabiting temperate regions in the Southern Hemisphere, as well.
Sandgrouse is the common name for Pteroclididae, a family of sixteen species of bird, members of the order Pteroclidiformes. They are traditionally placed in two genera. The two central Asian species are classified as Syrrhaptes and the other fourteen species, from Africa and Asia, are placed in the genus Pterocles.
Rheidae is a family of flightless ratite birds which first appeared in the Paleocene. It is today represented by the sole living genus Rhea, but also contains several extinct genera.
Penguins (order Sphenisciformes, family Spheniscidae) are a group of aquatic, flightless birds. They live almost exclusively in the Southern Hemisphere, with only one species, the Galapagos penguin, found north of the equator. Highly adapted for life in the water, penguins have countershaded dark and white plumage, and their wings have evolved into flippers. Most penguins feed on krill, fish, squid and other forms of sealife caught while swimming underwater.
Owls are birds from the order Strigiformes, which includes about 200 species of mostly solitary and nocturnal birds of prey typified by an upright stance, a large, broad head, binocular vision, binaural hearing, sharp talons, and feathers adapted for silent flight. Exceptions include the diurnal northern hawk-owl and the gregarious burrowing owl.
Struthionidae is a family of flightless ratite birds which first appeared during the Miocene epoch, though various Paleocene, Eocene and Oligocene ratites may belong tot his group. Traditionally the order Struthioniformes contained the world's ratites, but recent genetic analysis has found that the group is not monophletyic, as it paraphyletic in respect to the tinamous.
The order Suliformes is an order by the International Ornithologist's Union. In regard to the recent evidence that the traditional Pelecaniformes is polyphyletic, it has been suggested that the group be split up to reflect the true evolutionary relationships.
The trogons and quetzals are birds in the order Trogoniformes which contains only one family, the Trogonidae. The family contains 39 species in seven genera. The fossil record of the trogons dates back 49 million years to the Early Eocene. They might constitute a member of the basal radiation of the order Coraciiformes or be closely related to mousebirds and owls.
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