How many bird species are there????

How many bird species are there???? that’s a kinda common question which keeps coming in birders’s mind….so I did a quick analysis to check out the numbers of various avian taxa across various Avian Taxonomy Checklists…

There are approximately 10,500 bird species in the world. This number varies by a few hundred birds, depending on which classification system you use. As with most animal groupings, species are being redefined and what was considered to be one species may be split into two or more species, and in other cases. two species may be combined into one species. This splits and groupings happen regularly. It has been proposed that increasing numbers of vertebrate species are largely owing to ‘taxonomic inflation’. According to this hypothesis, newly recognized species result from reinterpretations of species limits based on phylogenetic species concepts (PSCs) rather than from new discoveries.

The Avian Taxonomy Checklists which I quickly analyzed are:

Out of this 8 World Checklist of Birds three are having subspecies level taxonomy eg. IOC World Bird Names (v 3.1), Clements checklist of birds of the world and Howard and Moore complete checklist of the birds of the world.

Quick Ananlysis:

OrderFamilyGenusSpeciesSubspecies
IOC World Bird Names (v 3.1)4022922571059620988
Clements checklist of birds of the world: Version 6.63422821711015719676
Howard and Moore complete checklist of the birds of the world. 3rd edition. (Updated 2006)2002162969321737
Sibley and Monroe (1990, 1993)14620649702
BirdLife checklist of the birds of the world, with conservation status and taxonomic sources. Version 4.198213610610
IUCN Redlist 201125198212810052
Taxonomy in Flux Checklist 2.80 (jboyd.net)232231510526
Handbook of the Birds of the World, Lynx Edicions2820421849867

I also did tried to find the Unique Species and Subspecies Epithet occurring in all the above checklists.

Epithet means specific names in Zoological Nomenclature, which refers to the second part (the second name) or third part within the scientific name of a species or subspecies respectively. 

eg. In Kalij Pheasant (Lophura leucomelanos), the second part leucomelanos  means Species Epithet. Whereas In Western Himalayan Subspecies of Kalij Pheasant (Lophura leucomelanos hamiltoni) , the second part leucomelanos  means Species Epithet and third part hamiltoni is Subspecies Epithet.

Unique Epithet – SpeciesUnique Epithet – Subspecies
IOC World Bird Names (v 3.1)591710228
Clements checklist of birds of the world: Version 6.656859765
Howard and Moore complete checklist of the birds of the world. 3rd edition. (Updated 2006)547810389
Sibley and Monroe (1990, 1993)5453
BirdLife checklist of the birds of the world, with conservation status and taxonomic sources. Version 4. 5928
IUCN Redlist 20115670
Taxonomy in Flux Checklist 2.80 (jboyd.net)5884
Handbook of the Birds of the World, Lynx Edicions5562

Here are the list of Top 5 occurrences of Species and Subspecies Epithets.

Top 5 Unique Epithet – SpeciesTop 5 Unique Epithet – Subspecies
Clements checklist of birds of the world: Version 6.6
EpithetOccuranceEpithetOccurance
minor26minor75
affinis25affinis66
gularis25occidentalis51
viridis25orientalis50
superciliaris23intermedius43
IOC World Bird Names (v 3.1)
minor26minor77
affinis26affinis64
viridis25occidentalis60
capensis24orientalis52
gularis24australis46
Howard and Moore complete checklist of the birds of the world. 3rd edition. (Updated 2006)
minor25minor80
viridis24affinis67
gularis23occidentalis59
capensis23orientalis53
superciliaris22intermedius47
Taxonomy in Flux Checklist 2.80 (jboyd.net)
affinis26
minor26
viridis25
gularis24
capensis24
Handbook of the Birds of the World, Lynx Edicions
minor25
viridis25
affinis24
gularis23
capensis22
Sibley and Monroe (1990, 1993)
minor25
gularis24
affinis24
viridis24
capensis23
BirdLife checklist of the birds of the world, with conservation status and taxonomic sources. Version 4. 
minor25
affinis25
viridis25
gularis24
capensis23
IUCN Redlist 2011
affinis25
minor25
viridis25
gularis24
capensis23

Here is the quick rundown to Birdlife Checklist of the birds of the world with conservation status.

EXTINCT (EX)132
EXTINCT IN THE WILD (EW)4
CRITICALLY ENDANGERED (CR)189
ENDANGERED (EN)381
NEAR THREATENED (NT)843
VULNERABLE (VU)683
DATA DEFICIENT (DD)62
NOT RECOGNISED (NR)1036
UNCER REVIEW (UR)81
LEAST CONCERN (LC)7759

I’m currently analyzing Indian Birds Checklist in similar fashion…so keep watching this space for the updates……

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