About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Bird Basics: How are birds classified?

Biologists group living creatures using a system based on similarities and differences.
There is a:

Kingdom
Phylum
Class
Order
Family
Genus & species
Common name

Birds belong to the animal Kingdom and are grouped under Phylum Chordata in the Class Aves (birds).

Within the Class Aves, birds are classified into smaller groups known as Orders and Families. Then each bird has a scientific name: a genus and a species. Worldwide, it has been agreed that the genus is always written first and begins with an upper case letter. The species is written entirely in lower case letters. Both the genus and species are written in italic font.

The Class Aves is currently divided up into 23 orders, 142 families, 2057 genera, and 9702 species of birds.


At least 309 living species of birds have been positively sighted in Michigan. Of these at least 202 are known to have nested at least once in the state.