How are Birds Classified:
Birds are grouped into categories based on their physiological similarities and also by their genetic make-up and this is called Classification. The study of classification is known as taxonomy. One of the systems of classification was created by Carl Linnaeus. The following points are noteworthy when we discuss bird classification:
- The first division of classification is into Kingdom. Birds are classified into the Kingdom Animalia (i.e. Animals).
- The kingdom is further divided into the Phylum. Birds are in the Phylum Chordata (Animals with a backbone).
- Next in classification is the Class. The Class for birds is Aves. From this stage we will be dealing purely with the classification of birds i.e. How the Class Aves is divided up.
- In bird classification the Class Aves is split up into 23 orders. Birds in an order all share very similar characteristics. More than half of the Class of Aves are in the order Passeriformes (also called Passerines).
- The orders are further divided into families. There are 142 families in the Class Aves. The family designation is usually indicated by ending in -dae. For example, the order Pelicaniformes is divided into the families of: Ardeidae (Egrets and Herons) and Thriskiornithidae (Ibises).
- The families are further divided into genus. There are 2,057 of them in the Class Aves.
- After the genus the next smallest unit of bird classification is species. In some cases the species is further divided into subspecies, this often occurs because birds of the same species living in a different geographical area may differ slightly. There are around 10,000 species of birds and around 22,000 subspecies of birds in the world. About 1300 species of birds are found in India of which which forty-two are endemic (they are unique to our country), one has been introduced by humans and twenty-five are rare or reported once in a while.
- When writing a bird’s scientific name the genus and species names are used. The genus always begins with a capital letter and the species with a lower case letter. They should always be written in italics as follows: Plegadis falcinellus (Glossy Ibis) or underlined if hand written.
Let us look at an example of bird classification by taking the Purple Heron which is a very common bird around DPS Tapi. It is classified as follows
Scientific Name (Latin Name) : Ardea purpurea
Kingdom : Animalia
Phylum : Chordata
Class : Aves
Order : Pelecaniformes
Family : Ardeidae
Genus : Ardea
Species : A. purpurea
Birds found around DPS Tapi belong to the following Orders: (Click on the links below to know the families and the species of birds) :