The 46 Orders














APODIFORMES Peters, 1940 (1867)

This name has a complicated history. Priority would seem to indicate that Trochiliformes should be used as it dates back to Wagler, 1830 (as the suborder Trochili). However, modern usage is Apodiformes. For a long time, names based on Cypselus were used, but this is a junior subjective synonym of Apus, hence Apodiformes. For families, the updated name would retain the same priority as the original, which dates back to Huxley as Cypselomorphae. That's what the (1867) is about. Still, 1830 trumps 1867. In this case I think it's better to emphasize stability over priority and use Apodiformes, not Trochiliformes.

The Apodiformes are an old clade. Ksepka et al. (2013) have found a fossil Eocypselus from the Green River formation (about 48 milliion years old) from a lineage that seems to predate the swift/hummingbird split (the lineage, not necessarily the fossil). The owlet-nightjar branch would be even older (note that Ksepka et al. use "Apodiformes" in the narrow sense of swifts plus hummingbirds).

Aegothelidae: Owlet-nightjars Bonaparte, 1853

1 genus, 11 species HBW-5

Aegothelidae Tree

The owlet-nightjars seem to be more closely related to the traditional Apodiformes (swifts and hummingbirds) than they are to the nightjars. This is not only supported by molecular evidence, but also by morphology (see Mayr, 2002; 2008a). The arrangement of species follows Dumbacher et al. (2003), which also provided evidence that A. salvadorii is not a subspecies of A. albertisi.

Note that Cleere (2010) uses the name Salvadori's Owlet-nightjar to refer to affinis, not salvadorii while the IOC used it to refer to salvadorii, calling affinis the Vogelkop Owlet-nightjar. It might be less confusing to use another name for salvadorii, but I don't know of any in current use that help. The term Mountain Owlet-nightjar is also a problem. H&M-4 (Dickinson and Remsen, 2013), which recognizes the same species as the TiF list, uses Mountain Owlet-nightjar for salvadorii and Arfak Owlet-nightjar for albertisi, further adding to the confusion.

Hemiprocnidae: Treeswifts Oberholser, 1906 (1852)

1 genus, 4 species HBW-5

Apodidae: Swifts Olphe-Galliard, 1887 (1836)

19 genera, 106 species HBW-5

The subfamilies and tribes follow HBW-5. Although they focus on the swiftlets, the available molecular studies suggest that some reorganization will be needed (see Thomassen et al., 2003, 2005; Price et al., 2004, 2005).

The Ameline Swiftlet, Aerodramus amelis, including palawanensis, has been split from the Uniform Swiftlet, Aerodramus vanikorensis (see Price et al., 2005; Dickinson and Remsen, 2013). The Three-toed Swiftlet seems to be sister to the Giant Swiftlet, Hydrochous gigas (Price et al., 2005), and so has been moved to Hydrochous.

Based on Päckert et al. (2012a), Alpine Swift, Tachymarptis melba and Mottled Swift, Tachymarptis aequatorialis, have been returned to Tachymarptis (from Apus). Further, Apus has been rearranged based on their study.

Following Leader (2011), the Fork-tailed Swift, Apus pacificus, has been split into 4 species: Blyth's Swift, Apus leuconyx, Salim Ali's Swift, Apus salimalii, Pacific Swift, Apus pacificus, and Cook's Swift, Apus cooki. In fact, Päckert et al. (2012a) subsequently found that Cook's Swift is more closely related to the Dark-rumped Swift than to the Pacific Swift. They did not include Blyth's or Salim Ali's Swifts, but it is likely that they are closer to Pacific, and that the Dark-rumped/Pacific complexes are themselves sisters.

Cypseloidinae: Primitive American Swifts Brooke, 1970

Apodinae Olphe-Galliard, 1887 (1836)

Collocalini: Swiftlets Bonaparte, 1853 (1852)

Chaeturini: Needletails Bonaparte, 1857

Apodini: Typical Swifts Olphe-Galliard, 1887 (1836)

Trochilidae: Hummingbirds Vigors, 1825

104 genera, 350 species HBW-5

Click for Trochilidae tree
Click for Trochilidae genera

Hummingbird taxonomy has been substantially revised in the 21st century. Past editions of this page have been based on Altshuler et al. (2004), McGuire et al. (2007, 2009), and Kirchman et al. (2010). It is now based on the phylogeny of McGuire et al. (2014) which includes 85% of all hummingbird species. Although some of the details differ, the AOU's SACC has also adopted this type of arrangement.

The subfamilies and tribes represent some of the natural groupings in McGuire et al. (2014). The treatment here is similar to that of H&M-4 (Dickinson and Remsen, 2013), but differs in several respects. I have acknowledged the deep divisions within Florisuginae and Phaethornithinae by dividing them into two tribes each, Topazini (Topazes) and Florisugini (Jacobins), and Eutoxerini (Sicklebills) and Phaethornithini (Hermits). I treat the Giant Hummingbird as a monotypic tribe (Patagonini) within Trochilinae rather than a subfamily sister to Trochilinae. And last, I've separated the core emeralds (Cynanthini) from the Amazilia group (Trochilini). The time-calibrated tree in McGuire et al. (2014) suggests that all three subfamilies originated about 20-22 mya and that the tribes from 12-20 mya. I suspect that the timing on their tree is a somewhat compressed, even though the swift-hummingbird split agrees with Jarvis et al. (2014). Ksepka and Clarke's (2015) analysis of the fossil record concludes that the swift-hummingbird split occurred earlier, no later than 51 mya.

There are also fairly deep divisions in the mangos, between the lancebill-violetear clade, the sungem-fairy clade, and the rest. These could be recognized as tribes—Petasophorini (violetears, based on Petasophora = Colibri), Heliothrichini(fairies), and Polytmini (mangos). However, I'm not sure that doing so really adds that much information.

There is an issue concerning one of of the tribe names. I've used Coeligenini (Eudes-Deslongchamps 1881) and as if it were a pre-1961 replacement name for Heliantheini (Reichenbach 1853). The problem is that until 2009, neither name was in prevailing usage, so that article 40.2 of the ICZN Code does not really apply. The problem would be even worse if Docimastini (Reichenbach 1853 based on Docimastes Gould 1849 = Ensifera Lesson 1843) had not been eliminated from consideration by the first reviser action of Dickinson and Remsen (2013).

McGuire et al. (2009) proposed use of Coeligenini as a Phylocode clade name. This has gained some traction. To avoid confusion, I also use Coeligenini and treat it a replacement for the name Heliantheini, although it may not stricly follow the the Code. If that bothers you, think of it as a Phylocode clade name (other such names are used elsewhere). Since Dickinson and Remsen (2013) adopted Heliantheini, it may come back into common use, in which case I will reconsider.

Hummingbird Generic Changes

Compared to H&M-4 (Dickinson and Remsen, 2013), there have been a number of genus changes in the hummingbirds:

Hummingbird Splits and Lumps

The Mexican Hermit, Phaethornis mexicanus, has been spilt from Long-billed Hermit, Phaethornis longirostris. See Howell (2013), and Arbeláz-Cortés and Navarro-Sigüenza (2013).

The Green Violetear, Colibri thalassinus, has been split into Mexican Violetear, Colibri thalassinus, and Lesser Violetear, Colibri cyanotus based on Remsen et al. (2015).

The Speckled Hummingbird, Adelomyia melanogenys, may include 5-6 species, one of them unnamed (Chaves and Smith, 2011; Chaves et al., 2011).

The Bearded Helmetcrest, Oxypogon guerinii has been split into: Green-bearded Helmetcrest, Oxypogon guerinii, Blue-bearded Helmetcrest, Oxypogon cyanolaemus, White-bearded Helmetcrest, Oxypogon lindenii, and Buffy Helmetcrest, Oxypogon stuebelii based on Collar and Salaman (2013).

It has long been argued that the distinctive Admirable Hummingbird, Eugenes spectabilis, of Costa Rica and Panama should be considered a separate species from the more northern Magnificent Hummingbird, Eugenes fulgens. Indeed, some authors have split them. Now there is genetic evidence to support this. Zamudio-Beltran et al. (2015) Admirable separated by a healthy 6 percent mitochondrial genetic distance. They also suggest subdividing fulgens and giving viridiceps species status. I don't see that they really provide evidence for this. They find that fulgens and viridiceps are not reciprocally monophyletic (strike 1), that there are no known plumage distinctions (strike 2), and that the mitochondrial genetic distance between fulgens and the viridiceps is relatively modest, less that 1 percent (strike 3).

Purple-throated Mountain-gem
Purple-throated Mountain-gem
Lampornis calolaemus
Monteverde, Costa Rica, 2003

The proper taxonomic treatment of the Lampornis castaneoventris complex remains unclear. There are three forms: with purple throats and blue tails (calolaemus, pectoralis, and homogenes), with white throats and blue tails (castaneoventris), and with white throats and gray tails (cinereicauda). They could represent subspecies of one species, the Variable Mountain-gem, as in Schuchman (1999 = HBW-5). Or the AOU could be right that they are two species, the Purple-throated Mountain-gem, Lampornis calolaemus, and the White-throated Mountain-gem, Lampornis castaneoventris (including cinereicauda). Alternatively, Stiles and Skutch (1989) and the IOC treat them as three allospecies, with Lampornis cinereicauda taking the name Gray-tailed Mountain-gem.

The DNA analysis revealed that these taxa are very closely related (García-Moreno et al., 2006), and is consistent with lumping all three forms into Variable Mountain-gem. However, although the ranges do meet, there is only limited evidence of hybridization, suggesting that they are best treated as three allospecies. That is the course followed here. In truth, there is insufficient data and a detailed study would be useful.

García-Moreno et al. (2006) found some evidence that White-bellied Mountain-gem, Lampornis hemileucus, does not belong with the other Lampornis but is closer to Panterpe. However, McGuire et al. (2009, 2014), which used a superset of the genes studied by García-Moreno et al., found the White-bellied Mountain-gem does in fact belong with other Lampornis.

Doubleday's Hummingbird, Chlorostilbon doubledayi, has been split from Broad-billed Hummingbird, Chlorostilbon latirostris. These two taxa have easily distinguished plumage, and in spite of the fact that their ranges abut one another, seem to be reciprocally monophyletic (García-Deras et al., 2008). In short, they appear to be distinct species, as treated by IOC, HBW-5 (Schuchmann, 1999), and Howell and Webb (1995), but not AOU.

Based on Feo et al. (2015) and the 56th AOU supplement, the Inagua Woodstar, Nesophlox lyrura, has been split from the Bahama Woodstar, Nesophlox evelynae.

Based on Gonzalez et al. (2011) and Navarro-Sigüenza, and Peterson (2004), the Wedge-tailed Sabrewing, Pampa (Campylopterus) curvipennis, has been split into Curve-winged Sabrewing, Pampa curvipennis (sister to Long-tailed Sabrewing, Pampa excellens) and Wedge-tailed Sabrewing, Pampa pampa, of the Yucatan.

The Blossom-crown, Anthocephala floriceps, has been split into Santa Marta Blossomcrown, Anthocephala floriceps, and Tolima Blossomcrown, Anthocephala berlepschi. See Lozano-Jaramillo et al. (2014) and SACC proposal #654 (under consideration).

The Plovercrest, Stephanoxis lalandi, has been split into Purple-crowned Plovercrest, Stephanoxis loddigesii, and Green-crowned Plovercrest, Stephanoxis lalandi. See Cavarzere et al. (2014) and SACC proposal #664 (under consideration).

The Violet-crowned Woodnymph, Thalurania colombica, and Green-crowned Woodnymph, Thalurania fannyi, have been merged into Crowned Woodnymph, Thalurania colombica. See SACC proposal #558. Note that AOU's NACC has not acted on this yet.

The Streamertail, Trochilus polytmus, was split into Red-billed Streamertail, Trochilus polytmus, and Black-billed Streamertail, Trochilus scitulus. The AOU maintains these as one species, but Gill et al. (1973) provides evidence of a narrow hybrid zone. Accordingly, I've decided to follow the IOC and HBW-5 (Schuchmann, 1999) on this one.

Finally, the Blue-vented Hummingbird, Saucerottia hoffmanni, of Nicaragua and Costa Rica, has been split from the Steely-vented Hummingbird, Saucerottia saucerottei.

All this means there are seven non-AOU species in the list: Mexican Hermit, Gray-tailed Mountain-gem, Wedge-tailed Sabrewing, Doubleday's Hummingbird, Curve-winged Sabrewing, Black-billed Streamertail, and Blue-vented Hummingbird.

Florisuginae: Topazes and Jacobins Bonaparte, 1853

Topazini: Topazes Bonaparte, 1853

Florisugini: Jacobins Simon, 1921

Phaethornithinae: Hermits and Sicklebills Jardine, 1833

Eutoxerini: Sicklebills Simon, 1921

Phaethornithini: Hermits Jardine, 1833

Polytminae: Mangoes Reichenbach, 1849

Lesbiinae: Coquettes & Brilliants Reichenbach, 1853

Lesbiini: Coquettes Reichenbach, 1853

Coeligenini: Brilliants Eudes-Deslongchamps 1881 (1853)

Trochilinae: Hummingbirds Vigors, 1825

Patagonini: Giant Hummingbird Bonaparte, 1853

Lampornini: Mountain-Gems Jardine, 1833

Mellisugini: Bees G.R. Gray, 1848

Cynanthini: Emeralds Jardine, 1833

Trochilini: Amazilias Vigors, 1825

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