Birds of the World

COAST BIRDS
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WORLD BIRDS
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ANECDOTES

  Brown Pelicans
 
 
 

TRAITS
 Ratites
 Tinamous
 Cracids/Galli
 Waterfowl
   Screamers
   Ducks

 Penguins
 Loons
 Grebes
 Procellarids
   Albatrosses
   Petrels
   Storm-Petrels

Totipalmate Swm

   Tropicbirds
   Gannets/Boobies
   Pelicans
   Cormorants
   Anhingas
   Frigatebirds

 
Waders
   Herons
   Ibises
   Storks  

 NW Vultures
 Flamingos
 Raptors
 Gruiformes
   Buttonquail
   Bustards
   Cranes
   Rails

 Shorebirds
   Sandgrouse
   Plovers
   Oystercatchers
   Stilts
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   Auks

 Pigeons
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 Frogmouths
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 Colies
 Coraciae

   Hornbills
   Hoopoes
   Trogons
   Rollers
   Kingfishers
   Bee-eaters
   Jacamars/Puffbd

 
Pici
   Honeyguides
   Woodpeckers
   Barbets/Toucans

PASSERINES
   NZ WRENS
   OW SUBOSC

      Broadbills
      Pittas

 NW SUBOSC
   NW Flycatchers

   Becards
   Cotingas
   Manakins
   Antbirds
   Ovenbirds
   Woodcreepers
   Antthrushes
   Tapaculos 

 OSCINES
 Lyre-/Scrub-birds
 Bowerbirds
 Aust. Wrens
 Honeyeaters
 Scrubwrens
 Aust. Robins
 Kinglets
 Shrikes
 Vireos
 Whistlers
 Corvids
 Birds-of-Paradse
 OW Orioles
 Cuckoo-shrikes
 Fantails
 Drongos
 Monarchs
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 Wattle-eyes
 Vangas
 Waxwings
 Dippers
 Thrushes
 OW Flycatchers
 Starlings
 Mimids
 Nuthatches
 N Creepers
 Wrens
 Gnatcatchers
 Tits/Parids
 Larks
 Swallows
 Leaf-Warblers
 Bulbuls
 Cisticolas
 White-eyes
 Babblers
 OW Warblers
 Flowerpeckers
 Sunbirds
 OW Sparrows
 Accentors
 Pipits
 Estridids
 Weavers
 Whydahs
 9-prim. Oscines

   Fringillines
   Carduelines
   Hawaiian Honycrp
   NW Sparrows
   NW Warblers
   Tanagers
   Cardinals
   NW Blackbirds

TOP

 
Pelecaniformes
 
Skip to:   
Pelecaniformes
Families: Tropicbirds, Gannets and Boobies, Pelicans, Cormorants, Anhingas, Frigatebirds,
      Hamerkop, Shoebill
 
Skip to:  
All Tropicbirds, All Sulids, All Pelicans, All Cormorants, All Anhingas, All Frigatebirds,
Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge
 
Skip to:  
Plunge Diving, Relative Sizes of Pelicans, Identifying Frigatebirds
 
Species:   
Red-tailed Tropicbird, Blue-footed Booby, Nazca Booby, Australian Pelican,
Brown Pelican (Galapagos), Peruvian Pelican. Pied Cormorant, Pelagic Cormorant,
Brandt's Cormorant
, Neotropic Cormorant, Rock Cormorant, Imperial Cormorant,
Red-legged Cormorant, Flightless Cormorant, Great Frigatebird
 
Images:   
Red-billed Tropicbird, Blue-footed Booby, Brown Pelican, Double-crested Cormorant,
Anhinga, Magnificent Frigatebird, Totipalmate toes, Gular pouch, Red-billed Tropicbirds, Masked Booby, Northern Gannet, Brown Pelican. Anhinga, Great Frigatebird
 
  Order Pelecaniformes - Totipalmate Swimmers
Wiki     ToL     EoL
  Pelecaniform birds include tropicbirds (3 species, 1 genus), gannets, and boobies, (9 (10) species placed in 3 (2)  genera, pelicans (7 (8) species, 1 genus), cormorants (35 (38, 39) species, 1 genus), anhingas (4 (2)  species , 1 genus), and frigatebirds (5 species, 1 genus). These numbers are from the primary references (World-Contents)  This gives a total of  63 - 67 species in 7-8 genera included in this diverse order. The recent inclusion of the Hammerkop and Shoebill (traditionally regarded as ciconiiform birds) add two species to the number.
   Sibley and Monroe (1990) suggest the following classification within the Order Ciconiiformes,

Suborder Ciconii:
   Infraorder Falconides - Osprey, Hawks and Eagles, Secretarybird, Falcons
   Infraorder Ciconiides -
      Parvorder Podicipedida - Grebes
      Parvorder Phaethontida -
         Family Phaethontidae - Tropicbirds
      Parvorder Sulida -
         Superfamily Suloidea
             Family Sulidae - Boobies, Gannets
             Family Anhingidae - Anhingas

         Superfamily Phalacrocoracoidea
             Family Phalacrocoracidae - Cormorants
      Parvorder Ciconiida
          Superfamily Ardeoidea - Herons, Bitterns
          Superfamily Scopoidea
             Family Scopidae - Hammerhead
          Superfamily Phoenicopteroidea - Flamingos
          Superfamily Threskiornithoidea - Ibises, Spoonbills
          Superfamily Pelecanoidea
             Family Pelicanidea
                Subfamily Balaenicipitinae - Shoebill
                Subfamily Pelecanidae - Pelicans
          Superfamily Ciconioidea
             Family Ciconiidae - New World Vultures, Storks
          Superfamily Procellarioidea
             Family Fregatidae - Frigatebirds
             Family Spheniscidae - Penguins
             Family Gaviidae - Loons
             Family Procellariidae - Tube-nosed Swimmers


  Those groups given in red are traditionally included in the Order Pelecaniformes so it can be seen that this classification effectively shatters the historical group. Sibley and Monroe (1990) also include families normally placed in the Order Charadriiformes into the Order Ciconiiformes. This scheme is essentially followed by The Encyclopedia of Life.
   Alternatively, there is some more recent thought that some typical ciconiiform groups (the herons and ibises) also belong in the Order Pelecaniformes. This would leave the storks as the only family in the Order Ciconiiformes and would require a revision of some of the pelecaniform characteristics listed below - in particular, four webbed toes (totipalmate feet) and the gular pouch would no longer be found in all groups.
    In addition, the tropicbirds appear not to be closely related to any other living group (distant relations are the Procellariiformes). This suggests that they should be placed in a separate order, the Order Phaethontiformes.

 
The current (2012) AOU Checklist arranges The several groups covered in this mix as follows:
      Order Phaethontiformes
          Family Phaethontidae - Tropicbirds
      Order Ciconiiformes
          Family Ciconiidae - Storks
      Order Suliformes
          Family Fregatidae - Frigatebirds
          Family Sulidae - Boobies
          Family Phalacrocoracidae - Cormorants, Shags
          Family Anhingidae - Darters

      Order Pelecaniformes
         Family Pelecanidae - Pelicans
         Family Ardeidae - Herons
         Family Threskiornithidae - Ibises and Spoonbills
            Subfamily Threskiornithinae - Ibises
            Subfamily - Spoonbills


  Again, those taxa in red are traditional. TheAOU follows these groups with a new order, Order Accipitriformes, containing New World vultures, the Osprey and accipitrids. Caracaras and Falcons remain in the Order Falconiformes. I suspect we'll begin to see many publications follow this trend. Note that the AOU does not deal with the Hammerhead and Shoebill since they do not occur in North America.

   These widely different definitions of these diverse orders suggests that the latest word is not in. Largely because I am used to the traditional order of the totipalmate swimmers and we are still dealing with a variety of diverse ideas about their interrelations, I'm reverting to the traditional order in which they are grouped together in the Order Pelecaniformes (they are the only birds with all four toes sharing a common web although this ignores the Hamerkop and Shoebill). All but tropicbirds have a bare gular pouch. Their nostrils are dysfunctional slits and pelecaniform birds breathe through the mouth. Clements (2007) places them here - after the loons and grebes. Based on DNA hybridization studies, Sibley and Ahlquist (1990), suggest that the sulids (boobies and gannets), anhingas, and cormorants are closely related. The tropicbirds appear to be descendants of an ancient divergence making them a sister group of a large number of aquatic birds, including other totipalmate birds (but current evidence places them closer to the procellariids and charadriids - in the so-called "Metaves"). Sibley and Ahlquist 1990), group the tropicbirds with other pelecaniforms ahead of the sulids. They suggest that frigatebirds are most closely related to penguins, loons and tube-nosed swimmers and that pelicans are most closely related to storks and ibises (including the Shoebill)... The Tree of Life  and Encyclopedia of Life both place pelicans with other Ciconiformes. It has been suggested that the cormorants are not really Pelecaniformes so there is a tendency to merge the core Pelecaniformes with the Ciconiformes. The order appears to be paraphyletic, the result of convergent evolution. Convergent or not, their lineages can be traced back to the end of the Cretaceous and they seem to belong to a close-knit group of "higher waterbirds" including penguins and procellariids. Difficulties with the placement of tropic birds are related to the antiquity of their lineage. Molecular and anatomical studies place them outside the order. An interim solution is to place them in a separate taxon, the Order Phaethontiformes, located near the procellariiformes (adopted by the AOU). The Tree of Life places them with the Neoaves between sandgrouse  and swifts/hummingbirds.
   The most reasonable (but not necessarily phyletic) arrangement places the typical families together and adds the Scopidae (Hammerkop) and Balaenicipitridae (Shoebill) to the order (Dickinson, 2003).  I suspect we will see the traditional pelecaniforms remain as an expanded clade (including the hammerkop and shoebill and probably excluding tropicbirds).
   I'll keep the totipalmate groups together for now, preserving the classic classification of the group (I like the four webbed toes and coastal/marine distribution of the group). However, there is no reason that the features unifying the classic Pelecaniformes could not have been obtained by convergent evolution.

   All species are totipalmate (the hallux - "first toe" - is turned forward and connected by a web to the second digit - see pictures on the next web page). They have an intraorbital salt gland (the gland is found within the orbit - in other birds it is supraorbital - placed above the bony orbit between the skull and skin. All but tropicbirds have gular pouches in which they may capture/carry food. No other living group lacks an incubation (brood) patch (a special area of skin used for transferring heat from the adult to eggs and young). In most species, the furcula is ankylosed to the sternum (it has a bony rather than a ligamentous connection).
   The palate is desmognathous (except in Phaethon). Pelvic muscles are variable in different genera. Their flexor tendons are Type2 and their carotids are paired in Phaethon, Fregata, and Phalacrocorax. There is a single left carotid in Anhinga and Pelecanus. It is paired or single left in Sula. The nares are impervious except in tropic birds. The oil gland is tubular and bilobed. Intestinal caeca are small. The synrinx is tracheo-bronchial but variable.
   They have 11 primaries with the outermost feather reduced. Anhingas have 16 secondaries, cormorants have 15-21, boobies have 28, and pelicans have 29. Anhingas have 12 tail feathers, cormorants have 12-14, boobies have up to 16, and pelicans have 20-24, The aftershaft is vestigial or absent. There are 14-20 cervical vertebrae (14-15 in tropicbirds, 17 in pelicans, 18 in boobies, 20 in cormorants, and 19-20 in anhingas). Their young are hatched blind and nearly naked and spend some time being cared for in the nest (they are nidicolous and altricial). They have a fine, long down at hatching.
   The bill is variable. Their tongue is rudimentary. Young feed from the gullet (except possibly in tropicbirds).
   Extinct groups include the Pelagornithidae, extinct giant seabirds that looked like albatrosses but had tooth-like projections on a large bill. This group might actually belong to the Galloanserae rather than Neognathae. A second family includes the Protopteridae - an extinct group related to darters but poorly known. Extinct tropicbirds are also known from the fossil record.
 
  Red-billed Tropicbird

Red-billed Tropicbird, Phaeton rubricauca. Española. Galapagos
                                                      SI Web

Blue-footed Booby





  Blue-footed
  Booby
, Sula
  nebouxii.

  Española.
  Galapagos
           SI Web

Brown Pelican

Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis.
North Beach
                                                      SI Web

  Double-crested Cormorant

  Double-
  crested

  Corm-
  orant
,
  Phalacro-
  corax
  auritus.

  Palmetto
  Lake
       SI Web
Anhinga Magnificent Frigatebird
 
Anhinga, Anhinga anhinga.
Donnelley WMA
                                                      SI Web
Magnificent Frigatebird, Fregata magnificens.
North Seymour Island, Galapagos
                                                      SI Web
     
  Banner - Brown Pelicans - North Beach