Conventional Classification Systems

The language which ornithologists use when discussing the birds which are alive today is not very meaningful to the average birder. In a typical classification system they may refer to:-

  • 30 orders using words which end in …formes.
  • 200 families using words which end in …idae. Many families are split further into genera.
  • 10,000 species which make up the various genera and families.
  • The orders are split into 29 Non-Passerines and 1 order of Passerines.
  • The Non-Passerines orders contain 98 families and about 4000 species.
  • The Passerines order has 105 families and about 6000 species.

Field guides are usually presented using some form of the classification system and most birders can fairly readily turn to the type of bird they are interested in but few of them actually understand the terminology used to classify the birds. If all they want to do is identify the species they have seen the terminology does not matter. If they want to understand more about the birds the terminology used does not encourage them. After all it was developed for ornithologists not for the average birder.

One of my aims is to de-mystify some of the ornithological terms which many birders find hard to pronounce let alone understand. In order to achieve this I have been testing out various other ways in which birds can be grouped.