Bird Names - IOC World Bird List

IOC World Bird List

Different authorities may use different English and scientific names for the same species, which makes searching for information a little difficult! Even the most recognized authorities do not agree on all species and subspecies.

I have decided to base my work on the names defined by IOC World Bird List (rev. 11.1 –   2020).

The IOC World Bird List was originally related to the International Ornithological Committee (IOC), which convened an international congress every four years. Since then IOC has been reorganized as a nonprofit membership organization: the International Ornithologists’ Union (IOU). One goal of IOU is to better align the different world bird lists:

When there is dispute about classification or the official English name I will mention it in the articles and also provide generally accepted synonyms for each species.

The index “All species index sorted by English names” also list any known synonym to make it easier to find a specific species.

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Scientific names / classification

When searching for information about a specific genus or species from different sources, it is often easiest to use the scentific name as this is much more likely to be the same in all sources while there may be several different English synonyms.

Example: Orange-winged Amazon, Orange-winged Parrot and  Common Amazon Parrot are all synonyms for the Amazona amazonica species.

The scientific name of each species consist of two parts: Genus and species – these are both in latin. In the example above Amazona is the genus name and Amazona amazonica is the species name.

In case of subspecies the name consists of three parts where the first two are the species name like above and the last part is the name of the subspecies. In litterature you will often see the species name abreviated when listing subspecies. Example: The Yellow-fronted Amazon species Amazona ochrocephala includes four subspecies:

  • Amazona ochrocephala ochrocephala = A. o. ochrocephala
  • Amazona ochrocephala nattereri  = A. o. nattereri
  • Amazona ochrocephala panamensi = A. o. panamensi
  • Amazona ochrocephala xantholaema = A. o. xantholaema

The scientific names make it easy to see which species are closely related (i.e. in same genus) and which are not. Example: The English names White-bellied Parrot and Black-headed Parrot may not indicate that these species are related but the scientific name tell you that both belongs to the Pionites genus:

  • White-bellied Parrot – Pionites leucogaster
  • Black-headed Parrot – Pionites melanocephalus

When reading older litterature you should notice that some species may have been reclassified (some have been reclassified several times!), which makes it difficult to search information about a specific species. For this reason I have included known synonyms in this encyclopedia for a complete overview.


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