The Orders of Birds
Traditional Definition of Orders
Superorder Paleognathae (Ratites and Tinamous): share a unique configuration of the
bones between the nasal passages (the paleognathous palate)
Tinamiformes. Tinamous (1 family, 47 species). Neotropical. Can fly, but have
reduced sternal keel.
Rheiformes. Rheas (1 family, 2 species). Neotropical. Flightless, keel-less
Struthioniformes Ostrich (1family, 1 species). Africa. Flightless, keel-less
Casuariiformes Flightless, keel-less sternum. Two families:
Dromiceidae. Emu (1 species) Australia.
Casuariidae. Cassuaries (3 species) Australia and New Guinea.
Dinornithiformes. 1 extant family, Apterygidae. Kiwis (3 species) New Zealand.
Podicipediformes. Grebes (1 family, 21 species). Worldwide. Foot-propelled
divers, with toes lobed and tarsi laterally compressed. Feet set far back on body, making
movement on land awkward. Young subprecocial, carried on back by parents.
species, the nest is a floating platform of vegetation.
Sphenisciformes. Penguins (1 family, 17 species). Southern oceans. Flightless,
wings adapted as flippers for swimming, cannot be folded. Sternal keel well-developed.
Young are semiprecocial.
Procellariiformes. Tube-nosed seabirds, including albatrosses, shearwaters, and
petrels (4 families, 115 species). Tubuluar nostrils, hooked bill. Salt gland in roof of
orbit. Lay only one egg and have long incubation and nestking periods. Young
Pelecanifomes. Pelicans, cormorants, and relatives (6 families, 67 species). Feet
totipalmate, toes joined by webs. Most have distensible pouch of bare skin between the
halves of the lower mandible.