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Birds are perhaps the most difficult to classify of all the divisions of the vertebrata. The species and genera are exceedingly numerous, and there is such a great uniformity in general structure and even in the details of external form, that it is exceedingly difficult to find characters by which orders and families can be characterised. For a long time the system of Vigors and Swainson was followed; but this wholly ignored anatomical characters and in many cases plainly violated wellmarked affinities. Characters derived from the form of the sternum, the scutellation of the tarsi, and the arrangement of the feathers, have all assisted in determining natural groups. More recently Professor Huxley has applied the variations of the bony palate to the general arrangement of birds; and still more recently Professor Garrod has studied certain leg-muscles for the same purpose. The condition of the young as regards plumage, and even the form, texture, and coloration of the egg, have also been applied to solve doubtful cases of affinity; yet the problem is not settled, and it will probably remain for another generation of ornithologists to determine with any approach to accuracy what are the most natural divisions of the class into orders and families. In a work like the present it is evidently not advisable to adopt all the recent classifications; since experience has shown that no arrangement in which one set of characters is mainly relied on, long holds its ground. Such modifications of the old system as seem to be well established will be adopted; but the older groups will be adhered to in cases where the most recent classifications are open to doubt, or seem inconvenient as separating families, which, owing to their similarity in general structure, form and habits are best kept together for the purposes of geographical distribution. The old plan of putting the birds of prey at the head of the class, is now almost wholly given up; both because they are not the most highly organised, but only one of the most specialised forms of birds, and because their affinities are not with the Passeres, but rather with the cormorants and some other of the aquatic groups. The Passeres therefore are placed first; and the series of families is begun by the thrushes, which are certainly the most typical and generally well-organised form of birds. Instead of the Scansores and Fissirostres of the older authors, the order Picariae, which includes them both, is adopted, but with some reluctance; as the former are, generally speaking, well marked and strongly contrasted groups, although certain families have been shown to be intermediate. In the Picariae are included the goat-suckers, swifts, and humming-birds, sometimes separated as a distinct order, Macrochires. The parrots and the pigeons form each a separate order. The old groups of Grallae and Anseres are preserved, as more convenient than breaking them up into widely separated parts; for though the latter plan may in some cases more strictly represent their affinities, its details are not yet established, nor is it much used by ornithologists. In accordance with these views the following is the series of orders and families of birds adopted in this work:

Class—AVES. Orders. Including the great mass of the smaller birds—Crows Including the great mass of the snailer dirois- » 1. Passeres ... { ; #. Creepers, Honeysuckers, &c., &c. 2. Picari -- } Including Woodpeckers, Cuckoos, Toucans, Kingfishers, Carlae Swifts, &c., &c. 3. Psittaci ... Parrots only. 4. Columbae ... Pigeons and the Dodo. 5. Gallinae ... Grouse, Pheasants, Curassows, Mound-builders, &c. 6. Opisthocomi The Hoazin only. 7. Accipitres ... Eagles, Owls, and Vultures. 8. Grallae ... Herons, Plovers, Rails, &c. 9. Anseres ... Gulls, Ducks, Divers, &c.

10. Struthiones... Ostrich, Cassowary, Apteryx, &c.

The Passeres consist of fifty families, which may be arranged and grouped in series as follows. It must however be remembered that the first family in each series is not always that which is most allied to the last family of the preceding series. All extensive natural groups consist of divergent or branching alliances, which renders it impossible to arrange the whole in one continuous series.


1. Turdidae Thrushes. 2. Sylviidae Warblers. 3. Timaliidae --- Babblers. 4. Panuridae --- --- --- Reedlings. 5. Cinclidae --- --- ... Dippers. 6. Troglodytidae --- tells. 7. Chamaeidae 8. Certhiidae Creepers. 9. Sittidae Nuthatches. 10. Paridae Tits. 11. Liotrichidae ... --- --- Hill-tits. 12. Phyllornithidae... --- --- Green Bulbuls. 13. Pycnonotidae --- --- Bulbuls. 14. Oriolidae --- Orioles. 15. Campephagidae... Caterpillar-shrikes. 16. Dicruridae --- Drougos. 17. Muscicapidae ... --- Flycatchers. 18. Pachycephalidae --- Thick-heads. 19. Laniidae --- --- Shrikes. 20. Corvidae --- Crows. 21. Paradiseidae Paradise-birds. 22. Meliphagidae ... Honey-suckers. 23. Nectarineidae ... Sun-birds. B.—TANAGRo1D PASSEREs. 24, Dicaeidae --- -- Flower-peckers. 25. Drepanididae ... --26. Caerebidae - --- Sugar-birds. 27. Mniotiltidae Wood-warblers. 28. Vireonidae Greenlets. 29. Ampelidae --- --- --- Waxwings. 30. Hirundinidae ... --- --- Swallows. 31. Icteridae --- -- -- Hangnests. 32. Tanagridae Tanagers. 33. Fringillidae Finches. C.—STURNord PAssFREs. 34. Ploceidae -- --- Weaver-birds. 35. Sturnidae --- --- Starlings. 36. Artamidae --- --- Swallow-shrikes. 37. Alaudidae Larks. 38. Motacillidae Wagtails. D.—ForMicARoid PAssEREs. 39. Tyrannidae --- --- --- rants. 40. Pipridae --- --- amakins. 41. Cotingidae Chatterers. 42. Phytotomidae Plant-cutters. 43. Eurylaemidae ... Broad-bills. 44. Dendrocolaptidae American Creepers. 45. Formicariidae Ant-thrushes.

D.—ForMICARo1D PAsser Es—continued.
46. Pteroptochidae ... --- ---
47. Pitti --- --- --- Pittas.
48. Paictidae --- ---

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The preceding arrangement is a modification of that proposed by myself in the Ibis (1874, p. 406). The principal alterations are adding the families Panuridae and Sittidae in series A, commencing series B with Dicaeidae; bringing Vireonidae next to the allied American family Mniotiltidae; and placing Motacillidae in series C next to Alaudidae. At the suggestion of Professor Newton I place Menuridae and Atrichidae apart from the other Passeres, as they both possess striking peculiarities of anatomical structure.

The heterogeneous families constituting the order Picariae may be conveniently arranged as follows:

51. Picidae Woodpeckers. 52. Yungidae ... Wrynecks. 53. Indicatoridae Honey-guides. Sub-order— J 54. Megalaemidae Barbets. Scansores. Y 55. Rhamphastidae Toucans. 56. Musophagidae Plantain-eaters. 57. §. --- Colies 58. Cuculidae Cuckoos. Intermediate ... 59. Leptosomidae The Leptosoma. 60. Bucconidae ... Puff-birds. 61. Galbulidae ... Jacamars. 62. Coraciidae ... Rollers. 63. Meropidae ... Bee-eaters. 64. Todidae -- Todies. 65. Momotidae ... Motmots. 66. Trogonidae ... Trogons. Sub-order— 67. Alcedinidae ... Kingfishers. Fissirostres. , 68. Bucerotidae... Hornbills. 69. Upupidae Hoopoes. 70. Irrisoridae ... Promerops. 71. Podargidae ... Frog-mouths. 72. Steatornithidae The Guacharo. 73. Caprimulgidae Goatsuckers. 74. Cypselidae ... Swifts. U 75. Trochilidae ... Humming-birds.

The Psittaci or parrot tribe are still in a very unsettled state of classification; that recently proposed by Professor Garrod differing widely from the arrangement adopted in Dr. Finsch's monograph of the order. Taking advantage of the researches of these and other authors, the following families are adopted as the most convenient in the present state of our knowledge:

76. Cacatuidae ... ... The Cockatoos.

77. Platycercidae ... The Broad-tailed Paroquets of Australia.
78. Palaeornithidae ... The Oriental Parrots and Paroquets.
79. Trichoglossidae ... The Brush-tongued Paroquets and Lories.
80. Conuridae ... ... The Macaws and their allies.
81. Psittacidae ... ... The African and South American Parrots.
82. Nestoridae ... ... The Nestors of New Zealand.
83. Stringopidae ... The Owl-parrots of New Zealand.

The Columbae, or pigeons, are also in a very unsatisfactory state as regards a natural classification. The families, subfamilies, and genera proposed by various authors are very numerous, and often quite irreconcilable. I therefore adopt only two families; and generally follow Mr. G. R. Gray's handlist for the genera, except where trustworthy authorities exist for a different arrangement. The families are:

84. Columbidae ... Pigeons and Doves.
85. Dididae --- ... The extinct Dodo and allies.

The Gallinae, or game-birds, may be divided into seven families:

Fam. Sub-fam.

86. Pteroclidae ... --- --- ... Sand-grouse.

87. Tetraonidae ... --- --- ... Partridges and Grouse.
Pavoninae ... ... Peafowl.
Lophophorinae ... Tragopans, &c.
Phasianinae... ... Pheasants.

88. Phasianidae ... ( Euplocaminae ... Fire-backed Pheasants, &c.
Gallinae ... ... Jungle-fowl.
Meleagrinae... ... Turkeys.
Numidinae ... ... Guinea-fowl.

89. Turnicidae --- --- --- ... Hemipodes.

90. Megapodiidae ... --- --- ... Mound-makers. Cracinae ... ... Curassows.

91. Cracidae o: ... Guans.

Oreophasinae ... Mountain-pheasant,

92, Tinamidae ... Tinamous.

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