Gastornithiformes were an extinct order of giant flightless fowl with fossils found in North America, Eurasia, and possibly Australia.[1] Members of Gastornithidae were long considered to be a part of the order Gruiformes. However, the traditional concept of Gruiformes has since been shown to be an unnatural grouping. Beginning in the late 1980s and the first phylogenetic analysis of gastornithid relationships, consensus began to grow that they were close relatives of the lineage that includes waterfowl and screamers, the Anseriformes.[2] Recognizing the apparent close relationship between gastornis and waterfowl, some researchers even classify them within the anseriform group itself.[3] Others restrict the name Anseriformes only to the crown group formed by all modern species, and label the larger group including extinct relatives of anseriformes in the clade Anserimorphae (which this article and related pages have adopted).[4] While the order is generally considered to be monotypic, a 2017 paper concerning the evolution and phylogeny of giant fowl by Worthy and colleagues have found phylogenetic support in finding the mihirungs (Dromornithidae) to be the sister taxon to the gastornis.[1] The mihirungs are also another family of giant flightless birds that have been classified as anserimorphs either as crown anseriforms closely related to the screamers (Anhimidae)[5] or the sister taxon to Anseriformes.[3] Worthy et al. (2017) incorporated several new taxa and character traits into existing matrices of Galloanserae resulted in several of their phylogenies to support this grouping.[1] The authors did note the bootstrap support is weakly supported and one of their phylogenies even found gastornithiforms to be stem galliforms instead.[1] These too were also weakly supported as well.[1] Below is a simplified phylogeny showing their one phylogeny supporting gastornithiforms as anserimorphs.[1]


Anseriformes (screamers and waterfowl) Palamedra cornuta white background Cayley Anseranas semipalmata white backgroundGreylag flipped



Gastornithidae Gastornis giganteus restoration.jpeg

Dromornithidae (mihirungs) Dromornis BW

Temporal range: Paleocene - Pleistocene, 56–0.03 Ma
Gastornis skeleton
Dromornis stirtoni 01
Mounted skeletons of Gastornis giganteus (top photo) and Dromornis stirtoni (bottom photo)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Clade: Anserimorphae
Order: Gastornithiformes
Stejneger, 1885


  1. ^ a b c d e f Worthy, T.H.; Degrange, F.J.; Handley, W.D.; Lee, M.S.Y. (2017). "The evolution of giant flightless birds and novel phylogenetic relationships for extinct fowl (Aves, Galloanseres)". Royal Society Open Science. 11. doi:10.1098/rsos.170975.
  2. ^ Mustoe, G.E.; Tucker, D.S.; Kemplin, K.L. (2012). "Giant Eocene bird footprints from northwest Washington, USA". Palaeontology. 55 (6): 1293–1305. doi:10.1111/j.1475-4983.2012.01195.x.
  3. ^ a b Agnolín, F. (2007). "Brontornis burmeisteri Moreno & Mercerat, un Anseriformes (Aves) gigante del Mioceno Medio de Patagonia, Argentina". Revista del Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales. 9: 15–25. doi:10.22179/revmacn.9.361.
  4. ^ Andors, A. (1992). "Reappraisal of the Eocene groundbird Diatryma (Aves: Anserimorphae)". Science Series Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. 36: 109–125.
  5. ^ Murrary, P.F; Vickers-Rich, P. (2004). Magnificent Mihirungs: The Colossal Flightless Birds of the Australian Dreamtime. Indiana University Press.
American tree sparrow

The American tree sparrow (Spizelloides arborea), also known as the winter sparrow, is a medium-sized sparrow.

It had been classified under the genus Spizella, but multilocus molecular evidence suggested placement in its own genus.

Adults have a rusty cap and grey underparts with a small dark spot on the breast. They have a rusty back with lighter stripes, brown wings with white bars and a slim tail. Their face is grey with a rusty line through the eye. Their flanks are splashed with light brown. They are similar in appearance to the chipping sparrow.

Their breeding habitat is tundra or the northern limits of the boreal forest in Alaska and northern Canada. They nest on the ground.

These birds migrate into southern Canada and the United States to spend the winter. Usually, chipping sparrows are moving south around the same time as these birds arrive.

These birds forage on the ground or in low bushes, often in flocks when not nesting. They mainly eat seeds and insects, but also eat some berries. They are commonly seen near feeders with dark-eyed juncos.

This bird's song is a sweet high warble descending in pitch and becoming buzzy near the finish.


Barawertornis tedfordi was a dromornithid (mihirung), a huge flightless fowl bird hailing from Late Oligocene to Early Miocene. The only species in the genus Barawertornis, its fossil remains are found in strata of the Riversleigh deposits located at two sites in Northwestern Queensland, Australia. It was described in 1979 by Patricia Vickers-Rich from fragmentary but diagnostic remains, though more specimens have been subsequently found.B. tedfordi is currently the smallest known species of dromornithid, comparable in size to the cassowaries and weighing in at 80 to 95 kilograms.This mihirung was a fleet-footed species, probably a herbivore, that dwelt in the forest habitat covering most of Australia at the time of the bird's existence.


The bluebirds are a group of medium-sized, mostly insectivorous or omnivorous birds in the order of Passerines in the genus Sialia of the thrush family (Turdidae). Bluebirds are one of the few thrush genera in the Americas. They have blue, or blue and rose beige, plumage. Female birds are less brightly colored than males, although color patterns are similar and there is no noticeable difference in size between the two sexes.


Bullockornis planei, nicknamed the Demon-Duck of Doom or Thunderduck, is an extinct flightless bird that lived in the Middle Miocene, approximately 15 million years ago, in what is now Australia.Bullockornis stood approximately 2.5 metres (8 ft 2 in) tall. It may have weighed up to 250 kg (550 lb). Features of Bullockornis's skull, including a very large beak suited to shearing, have made some researchers consider that the bird may have been carnivorous, but most currently agree that it was a herbivore. The bird's skull is larger than that of many small horses.Some paleontologists, including Peter Murray of the Central Australian Museum, believe that Bullockornis was related to geese and ducks. This, in addition to the bird's tremendous size and outdated carnivorous habits, gave rise to its colourful nickname. It may be somewhat inaccurate, however, as other studies have recovered dromornithids as more closely related to Galliformes.

The bird's generic name is improperly translated as "ox-bird", and was named instead for the type locality for the genus at Bullock Creek, Australia.


Dromornis is a genus of prehistoric birds that stood up to 3 m (9.8 feet) tall and weighed up to 730 kg (1,610 pounds).

Dromornis stirtoni

Dromornis stirtoni, colloquially known as Stirton's thunderbird, a member of the family Dromornithidae, is the largest flightless bird found through fossil evidence. It was three metres (10 feet) tall and weighed half a tonne (1100 lbs). It inhabited subtropical open woodlands in Australia during the Late Miocene and may have been carnivorous. It was heavier than Aepyornis and taller than the moa. Due to the poor fossil record of Dromornis australis (the type species of the genus) and the large time gap between the two Dromornis species, D. stirtoni may eventually be reassigned to the genus Bullockornis.

This species had a long neck and stub-like wings, rendering it flightless. Its legs were powerful, but it is not believed to have been a fast runner. The bird's beak was large and immensely powerful, leading early researchers to believe that it was used to shear through tough plant stalks. However, recently others have argued that the size of the beak suggests that the bird was a carnivore.The only recorded location of the species is at Alcoota Station in the central region of Australia's Northern Territory. When she discovered it, Patricia Vickers-Rich named the bird after fellow palaeontologist Ruben A. Stirton.


Gastornis is an extinct genus of large flightless birds that lived during the late Paleocene and Eocene epochs of the Cenozoic era. The genus is currently thought to contain three or four distinct species, known from incomplete fossil remains, found in western-central Europe (England, Belgium, France and Germany). More complete specimens are known from a fourth, North American species, which had previously been classified in the distinct genus Diatryma. Many scientists now consider Diatryma to be so similar to the other species of Gastornis that it should also be included in that genus. A fifth species, also previously classified in its own genus, is known from China.

Gastornis species were very large birds, and have traditionally been considered to be predators of small mammals. However, several lines of evidence, including the lack of hooked claws in known Gastornis footprints and studies of their beak structure have caused scientists to reinterpret these birds as herbivores that probably fed on tough plant material and seeds.


Gastornithidae is a family of prehistoric birds. The various species in this group lived from the Paleocene to the Eocene epochs and ranged from Asia and Europe to North America. All known species were very large, flightless ground birds, similar to ostriches but more heavily built and with huge beaks. Once thought to be carnivores, they are now considered to have been primarily herbivorous.They apparently evolved in isolation in Europe, an island continent in the Paleocene and parts of the Eocene, before dispersing to other landmasses for a brief period of time. In this respect they resemble the elephant birds of Madagascar, also occurring in an otherwise mammal-dominated island environment where herbivorous birds exceed the largest local mammals in size.Gastornithids are only known from a handful of species. The genus Gastornis itself contains three European species, as well as the North American species G. giganteus, a well-known prehistoric bird formerly classified as the distinct genus Diatryma. An Asian species, G. xichuanensis, was originally classified as the distinct genus Zhongyuanus. Apart from these, there are some indeterminate gastornithid species, including "Diatryma" cotei from the middle-late Eocene of France. Additional, fragmentary fossils that are difficult to classify in any particular genus or species include remains found in Paleocene rocks of Walbeck, Germany, and the specimen YPM PU 13258 from early Eocene rocks of Park County, Wyoming, possibly a juvenile G. giganteus

List of birds

This page lists living orders and families of birds. The links below should then lead to family accounts and hence to individual species.

The passerines (perching birds) alone account for well over 5000 species. In total there are about 10,000 species of birds described worldwide, though one estimate of the real number places it at almost twice that.

Taxonomy is very fluid in the age of DNA analysis, so comments are made where appropriate, and all numbers are approximate. In particular see Sibley-Ahlquist taxonomy for a very different classification.

Mountain bluebird

The mountain bluebird (Sialia currucoides) is a medium-sized bird weighing about 30 g (1.1 oz) with a length from 16–20 cm (6.3–7.9 in). They have light underbellies and black eyes. Adult males have thin bills and are bright turquoise-blue and somewhat lighter underneath. Adult females have duller blue wings and tail, grey breast, grey crown, throat and back. In fresh fall plumage, the female's throat and breast are tinged with red-orange, brownish near the flank contrasting with white tail underparts. Their call is a thin 'few'; while their song is warbled high 'chur chur'. It is the state bird of Idaho and Nevada. It is an omnivore and it can live 6 to 10 years in the wild. It eats spiders, grasshoppers, flies and other insects, and small fruits. The mountain bluebird is a relative of the eastern and western bluebirds.


The Odontoanserae is a purposed clade that includes the family Pelagornithidae (pseudo-toothed birds) and the clade Anserimorphae (the order Anseriformes and their stem-relatives). The placement of the pseudo-toothed birds in the evolutionary tree of birds has been problematic, with some supporting the placement them near the orders Procellariformes and Pelecaniformes based on features in the sternum.In 2005 a cladistic analysis had found support in placing pseudo-toothed birds as the sister group to waterfowl. Evidence for this comes from shared characteristics in the skull such as lack a crest on the underside of the palatine bone and two condyles on the mandibular process of the quadrate bone, with the middle condyle beakwards of the side condyle. In addition to that both groups have similar features in their pelvic and pectoral regions. Furthermore, a 2013 study on the growth pattern and structure of the pseudoteeth in Pelagornis mauretanicus shows more support of Odontoanserae as both groups have "soft rhamphotheca, or delayed hardening of the rhamphotheca." In addition to Pelagornithidae and Anseriformes paleontologists also have support in placing mihirungs (Dromornithidae) and Gastornithids into this group, as they too also share anatomical features in the skull and pelvic bones with waterfowl. The mihirungs and the gastornithids are more derived than the pseudo-tooth birds and are closer to Anseriformes. One hypothesis is that diatryams and mihirungs are successive sister groups to anseriforms and another hypothesis places mihirungs as crown anseriforms closely related to the screamers (Anhimidae).Below is the general consensus of the phylogeny.

However, a 2017 paper by Worthy and colleagues have found an alternative phylogeny concerning Anserimorphae. By adding additional new characters, as well as incorporating several new taxa into established matrices, the authors have found gastornithids and mihirungs to be sister taxa and could be placed in the order Gastornithiformes. In addition they have found support that the family Vegaviidae (usually classified as crown anseriforms or their sister taxon) are more related to gastornithiforms than to anseriforms (which they have created the monotypic order Vegaviiformes). The authors did note the bootstrap support is weakly supported and several alternative phylogenies in their paper found gastornithiforms to be stem galliforms instead. These too were also weakly supported as well. Below is a simplified phylogeny showing their one phylogeny supporting gastornithiforms as anserimorphs.

In 2019 a new species Conflicto antarcticus was described from Early Paleocene deposits in Antarctica. Known completely from associated bones from a single individual, Tambussi et al. (2019) incorporated the new taxon into a phylogenetic analysis using the matrix data from Worthy et al. (2017). Their results not only supported the sister grouping of vegaviids with gastornithids and mihirungs (which they included Vegaviidae into Gastornithiformes), but also found two taxa Anatalavis rex and the tall, wading presbyornithids, traditionally placed as part of the anseriform crown, have found to be stem-anseriforms. Below is the Tambussi et al. (2019) phylogeny.

Olive-sided flycatcher

The olive-sided flycatcher (Contopus cooperi) is a passerine bird. It is a medium-sized tyrant flycatcher.


Rallus is a genus of wetland birds of the rail family. Sometimes, the genera Lewinia and Gallirallus are included in it. Six of the species are found in the Americas, and the three species found in Eurasia, Africa and Madagascar are very closely related to each other, suggesting they are descended from a single invasion of a New World ancestor.These are slim, long-billed rails with slender legs. Their laterally flattened bodies are an adaptation to life in wet reedbeds and marshes, enabling them to slip easily through the dense semi-aquatic vegetation. Typically these birds have streaked brown upperparts, blue-grey on the face or breast, and barred flanks. Only the African rail has a plain back, and the plain-flanked rail lacks any blue-grey in its plumage and has no flank bars.Three endemic South American species are endangered by habitat loss, and the Madagascan rail is becoming rare.

Red-kneed dotterel

The red-kneed dotterel (Erythrogonys cinctus) is a species of plover in a monotypic genus in the subfamily Vanellinae. It is often gregarious and will associate with other waders of its own and different species, even when nesting. It is nomadic and sometimes irruptive.


The Selandian is in the geologic timescale an age or stage in the Paleocene. It spans the time between 61.6 and 59.2 Ma. It is preceded by the Danian and followed by the Thanetian. Sometimes the Paleocene is subdivided in subepochs, in which the Selandian forms the "Middle Paleocene".

Streaked spiderhunter

The streaked spiderhunter (Arachnothera magna) is a species of bird in the family Nectariniidae.


The Tadorninae is the shelduck-sheldgoose subfamily of the Anatidae, the biological family that includes the ducks and most duck-like waterfowl such as the geese and swans.

This group is largely tropical or Southern Hemisphere in distribution, with only two species, the common shelduck and the ruddy shelduck breeding in northern temperate regions, though the crested shelduck (presumed extinct) was also a northern species.

Most of these species have a distinctive plumage, but there is no pattern as to whether the sexes are alike, even within a single genus.


Vegaviidae is an extinct basal family of anserimorph birds which existed from the Late Cretaceous to the Early Paleogene periods with fossils found in Canada, Chile, New Zealand, and Antarctica.Previously the genera Neogaeornis and Polarornis were classified as stem-loons based on the similarities in the anatomy of the leg structure. However, there were some criticism to these assertions as the material are from incomplete specimens from Antarctica lacking several important loon characteristics.In 2017 Agnolín and colleagues perform a phylogenetic analysis of these genera in addition to the newly discovered Australornis and Vegavis, the latter genus of which a more complete specimen has been found. This allowed the team to do anatomical comparisons between these genera. They have found support of them making up a family of birds showing specializations to diving, classfied as the sister taxon to crown Anseriformes. This is evidence that some families of modern birds have crossed the K–Pg boundary unaffected by the extinction event that occurred. The authors also stated this is further evidence of Gondwana having an important role for the evolution of modern birds.Another 2017 paper by Worthy et al. that focuses on the evolution and phylogenetic relationships of giant fowl has found weak support in finding the vegaviids to be the sister taxon to Gastornithiformes (which the authors included Gastornithidae and mihirungs in the order).In the description and phylogenetic placement of Maaqwi from Sandy et al. (2017) found an alternative position for vegaviids where the data supported placing them as stem-birds in the more exclusive clade Ornithurae. If so this would significantly imply vegaviids were the only group of stem-birds to have survived the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event alongside modern or crowned birds.In 2018 Mayr and colleagues did a review of the vegaviids systematics stating that while Vegavis and Polarornis are sister genera based on overall similarities in their femur and tibiotarsal bones, the inclusion of the other species is poorly supported and may not be vegaviids at all. Furthermore, comparison of the plesiomorphic traits of the pterygoid and the mandible does not seem to firmly established anseriform or galloanserine affinities for Vegaviidae. Mayr et al. (2018) commented to try and classify all southern hemisphere birds into a single clade is premature as it may not illustrate the complex relationships and the convergent evolution birds have undergone.


The whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus) is a wader in the large family Scolopacidae. It is one of the most widespread of the curlews, breeding across much of subarctic North America, Asia and Europe as far south as Scotland.

The whimbrel is a migratory bird wintering on coasts in Africa, southern North America, South America, and South Asia into Australasia. It is also a coastal bird during migration. It is fairly gregarious outside the breeding season.

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