You probably know that our most ancient extant bird families are the Ratites, which include Ostriches, Rheas, Kiwis, Cassowaries and Emu. But which bird families are the most recently evolved?

In January 2018 the International Ornithological Congress (IOC) released version 8.1 of its world bird list, which is hosted on the IOC’s World Bird Names website. Version 8.1 included the results of a detailed study of all the bird families that are newer than Family: Fringillidae – Finches, Euphonias (Barker et al. 2013, 2015; NACC 2017-B-6). These most recently evolved families cover all the bird species that appear in Part Twelve of the IOC bird list in the All the World’s Birds series of Companion Guides.

Before v8.1 was released, there were 862 recognized extant bird species in Part 12 of the IOC bird list ascribed to 7 families, with a further 6 species temporarily lodged in a ‘Family Uncertain’ group with the Latin name Incertae Sedis 2. The order and species populations of these families were:

Family: Parulidae – New World Warblers    119

Family: Incertae Sedis 2 – Family Uncertain     6

Family: Icteridae – Oropendolas, Orioles and Blackbirds     108

Family: Coerebidae – Bananaquit    1

Family: Emberizidae – Buntings, New World Sparrows and allies    181

Family: Thraupidae – Tanagers and allies    394

Family: Calcariidae – Longspurs, Snow Buntings    6

Family: Cardinalidae – Cardinals, Grosbeaks and allies    53


The Barker et al. study, which applied the latest techniques for assessing relationships between bird species based on genetic analysis, discovered that the most recently evolved bird family was not the Cardinalidae but the Thraupidae. The study also revealed the existence of ten new families, while Bananaquit was ascribed to the Thraupidae family. The six species from Incertae Sedis 2 were ascribed to families, and many others were moved to a new or different family. v8.2 of the IOC bird list (published in June 2018) added one extra species when White-collared Seedeater was split into two species: Cinnamon-rumped Seedeater and Morelet’s Seedeater. Two families were also given modified English names.


So at the start of 2019 there were 869 extant bird species in Part 12 of the IOC bird list, grouped into 16 families ordered as follows:

Family: Calcariidae – Longspurs, Snow Buntings    6

Family: Rhodinocichlidae – Thrush-tanager    1

Family: Emberizidae – Buntings    44

Family: Passerellidae – New World Sparrows    135

Family: Calyptophilidae – Chat-tanagers    2

Family: Phaenicophilidae – Hispaniolan Tanagers    4

Family: Nesospingidae – Puerto Rican Tanager    1

Family: Spindalidae – Spindalises    4

Family: Zeledoniidae – Wrenthrush    1

Family: Teretistridae – Cuban Warblers    2

Family: Icteriidae – Yellow-breasted Chat    1

Family: Icteridae – Oropendolas, Orioles and Blackbirds     108

Family: Parulidae – New World Warblers    119

Family: Mitrospingidae – Mitrospingid Tanagers    4

Family: Cardinalidae – Cardinals, Grosbeaks and (Tanager) Allies    53

Family: Thraupidae – Tanagers and Allies    384


The full details of these families and species, and how they are distributed throughout the world, are in a newly published ATWB title:

All the World’s Birds 2019 : A Companion Guide – PART TWELVE

Amazon US     Amazon UK


To see all the currently available titles in the ‘All the World’s Birds’ PART-BY-PART series, search in the Books section of your local Amazon site for ATWBPPOr, click here to see all ATWBPP titles on Amazon USor here to see all ATWBPP titles on Amazon UK.

For more details about the PART-BY-PART … series of ATWB Companion Guides, click here.

To find links to all available ATWB titles in the All the World’s Birds Companion Guide series, click here.



Some details …


Each of the ATWB 2019 Companion Guides has a number of important features, including:

– A complete taxonomic listing of bird species

– An indication of where each bird family and species can be found in its native state

– Spotlighted species that have a restricted regional or worldwide range


However, perhaps the key feature of all eBooks in the Companion Guide series is the way you can quickly and simply access relevant, up to date online information about every featured bird species. If your reading device is connected to the internet, a single click will take you to a search results page for a species, from where you can continue to search for additional information to whatever level of detail you desire.


The ‘All the World’s Birds’ series of Companion Guides derives its taxonomy, English names and scientific names from The IOC World Bird List, an open access resource maintained by the International Ornithological Congress (IOC). The IOC bird list is hosted on a dedicated World Bird Names website, which provides access to the list in various different formats. The version of the IOC bird list used in the ‘All the World’s Birds 2019’ series of Companion Guides is Version 8.2, published June 27 2018.




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About Charles R Stubbs

Charles has earned his living by writing for more than 15 years. His first two mystery thriller novels, 'Web of Deceit' and 'Retribution', have been published as Kindle eBooks on Amazon. In addition, Charles has published more than 50 eBook birding companion guides, released under the "All the World's Birds" title - search ATWB in Amazon Books. Previously a senior executive in the UK telecommunications industry, since 2001 Charles has crafted sales and marketing literature for major organisations – some of them household names – enabling them to improve their business performance.

Posted on March 15, 2019, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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