What are birds classified as? An avian overview

Birds, with their mesmerizing colors and graceful flight, have captivated human beings for centuries.

But have you ever wondered how these magnificent creatures are classified?

Delving into the intricate world of bird taxonomy, this article unveils the fascinating classification system that groups birds based on their unique features.

Amongst the vast array of avian species, we focus on the American Robin, a beloved member of the Turdidae family.

As we embark on this ornithological journey, prepare to be amazed by the diversity and complexity of the avian kingdom.

what are birds classified as

Birds are classified as a class called Aves.

They belong to the kingdom Animalia and the phylum Chordata.

Within the class Aves, birds are further classified into various orders, families, genera, and species based on their characteristics and evolutionary relationships.

Examples of bird orders include Passeriformes (which includes perching birds like the American Robin), Ciconiiformes (which includes birds of prey like the Bald Eagle), Struthioniformes, Galliformes, Piciformes, Diatrymiformes, and Gruiformes.

These classifications help scientists organize and understand the diverse group of animals known as birds.

Key Points:

  • Birds are classified as a class called Aves.
  • They belong to the kingdom Animalia and the phylum Chordata.
  • Within the class Aves, birds are further classified into various orders, families, genera, and species.
  • Examples of bird orders include Passeriformes, Ciconiiformes, Struthioniformes, Galliformes, Piciformes, Diatrymiformes, and Gruiformes.
  • These classifications help scientists organize and understand birds.
  • Characteristics and evolutionary relationships are used to determine these classifications.


Did You Know?

1. Birds are classified as theropod dinosaurs, meaning they belong to the same group as famous carnivorous dinosaurs such as the T-Rex. This makes birds the only surviving lineage of dinosaurs.

2. Scientists have discovered that crows possess the ability to recognize and remember human faces. They can even relay this information to other crows, potentially creating their own social network to discuss potential threats.

3. The fastest bird in level flight is the grey-headed albatross. It can reach speeds of up to 79 miles per hour (127 kilometers per hour) without the assistance of wind or currents.

4. The vocal range of a mockingbird is incredibly diverse, as it can imitate over 200 different bird songs. Some mockingbirds can even mimic sounds like car alarms or sirens.

5. The magnificent frigatebird can stay airborne for over a week without landing, using its long, slender wings to soar effortlessly. This ability allows them to cover extensive distances in search of food and mates.

1. Kingdom: Animalia

Birds, like all living creatures, belong to the Kingdom Animalia. This broad classification encompasses all multicellular organisms that are eukaryotic, which means their cells have a nucleus and other membrane-bound organelles. Animals are characterized by their ability to move, consume organic matter for energy, and reproduce sexually.

Birds, with their unique anatomy and physiology, are no exception to this kingdom.

Key points:

  • Birds belong to the Kingdom Animalia.
  • Kingdom Animalia includes multicellular eukaryotic organisms.
  • Animals move, consume organic matter, and reproduce sexually.
  • Birds have unique anatomy and physiology.

Birds, like all living creatures, belong to the Kingdom Animalia.

2. Phylum: Chordata

Birds belong to the Phylum Chordata, which includes all animals possessing a structure called a notochord at some point in their development. The presence of a notochord is a defining characteristic of this phylum.

In birds, the notochord is present during embryonic development but is replaced by the vertebral column, or backbone, as they mature.

Other animals in the Chordata phylum include mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and fish.

3. Class: Aves

The Class Aves is the official classification for birds. This class is exclusive to birds and includes all species that possess several key features, such as feathers, beaks, and the ability to lay hard-shelled eggs. Birds are warm-blooded and have a unique respiratory system that allows for efficient oxygen intake during flight. The Class Aves is diverse, with over 10,000 identified species worldwide.

4. Order: Passeriformes

The Order Passeriformes is a taxonomic group within the Class Aves, commonly known as perching birds or songbirds. It is one of the largest and most diverse groups, comprising approximately 60% of all bird species.

Passeriformes are characterized by their strong feet, which allow them to perch on branches, and their melodic songs.

Some well-known families within this order include:

  • Finches (Fringillidae)
  • Crows (Corvidae)

Fun Fact: Passeriformes are widely distributed and can be found in all habitats, except for the high Antarctic latitudes.

5. Family: Turdidae

The Turdidae family, belonging to the Passeriformes order, consists of various species commonly known as thrushes. These birds are renowned for their enchanting songs and physical characteristics such as plump bodies, medium-length tails, and stout beaks. Thrushes can be found worldwide and are particularly admired for their beautiful plumage and melodious vocalizations. It is worth noting the prominently recognized species within the Turdidae family, the American Robin (Turdus migratorius).

  • Thrushes are known for their beautiful songs
  • They typically have plump bodies, medium-length tails, and stout beaks
  • Thrushes are found all over the world
  • They are admired for their attractive plumage and melodious vocalizations
  • The American Robin (Turdus migratorius) is a well-known species within the Turdidae family.

6. Genus: Turdus

The genus Turdus falls under the family Turdidae and consists of numerous thrush species. Turdus thrushes can be found in diverse habitats around the world, from forests to gardens. These birds typically have a diet consisting of insects, fruits, and berries. They are known for their distinctive songs and have contributed greatly to the world of bird study and ornithology.

  • Thrushes belong to the genus Turdus within the family Turdidae.
  • They inhabit various environments, ranging from forests to gardens.
  • Their diet primarily includes insects, fruits, and berries.
  • These birds are known for their unique and melodious songs.
  • The study of Turdus thrushes has made significant contributions to the field of ornithology.

“The genus Turdus encompasses a wide variety of thrush species, which are notable for their diverse habitats, diet, and enchanting songs.”

7. Species: Turdus migratorius (American Robin)

Turdus migratorius, commonly known as the American Robin, is a well-recognized species within the genus Turdus. These migratory thrushes are native to North America and can be found across the continent.

American Robins are characterized by their red-orange breasts, grayish-brown backs, and melodious songs. They are a familiar sight in backyards and parks, feeding on earthworms, insects, and fruits.

Some key points about the American Robin:

  • Native to North America
  • Found across the continent
  • Recognizable by their red-orange breasts and grayish-brown backs
  • Known for their melodious songs
  • Commonly seen in backyards and parks
  • Diet consists of earthworms, insects, and fruits

“American Robins are a beloved bird species in North America, known for their beautiful songs and distinct appearance.”

8. Order: Ciconiiformes

The Order Ciconiiformes is comprised of several families of large wading birds, including storks, herons, and ibises. These birds are recognized for their long legs and necks, which are advantageous for foraging in wetland habitats. Ciconiiformes possess long beaks that are specifically adapted for capturing fish, frogs, and other small aquatic prey. It is important to note that while not directly related to the aforementioned bird classification, this order is still part of the avian class.

Furthermore, the avian world is teeming with a vast array of diverse and captivating creatures, ranging from the minute hummingbirds to the majestic eagles. Birds exhibit a plethora of forms and sizes, each uniquely suited to their environment’s demands. Appreciating the classification of birds enables scientists and bird enthusiasts alike to truly comprehend the rich diversity and interconnectedness of the avian world.

  • Storks, herons, and ibises are among the iconic species in the Order Ciconiiformes.
  • Ciconiiformes have long legs and necks that aid them in foraging in wetland habitats.
  • These birds have long beaks specialized for capturing fish, frogs, and small aquatic prey.

“Understanding their classification allows scientists and bird enthusiasts alike to appreciate the rich diversity and interconnectedness of the avian world.”


Is a bird a mammal?

No, birds are not considered mammals. While mammals are known for their milk-producing glands, hair, and giving birth to live young, birds have their own distinct characteristics as avians. Birds are unique in their ability to lay hard-shelled eggs, their feathered bodies, and possessing beaks instead of teeth.

Are birds classified as reptiles?

Birds are not classified as reptiles in the Linnaean system. While reptiles are characterized by being ectothermic and having scales, birds possess feathers and are endothermic. Therefore, based on these distinct characteristics, birds are classified as a separate group from reptiles in the Linnaean system of classification.

What are the 7 classification of animals?

The seven classifications in the taxonomy system for animals are kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species. Kingdom Animalia encompasses all animals, while the phylum or division further categorizes them based on certain characteristics. The class classification divides animals into distinct groups, followed by order, family, genus, and species, which progressively narrow down the classification based on shared characteristics and genetic relatedness.

Is A bird A Reptile or a Mammal?

A bird is neither a reptile nor a mammal. While birds share certain characteristics with reptiles, such as laying eggs and being ectothermic, they are distinct from both groups. Birds belong to the class Aves and are more closely related to reptiles than mammals. The defining feature of birds is their possession of feathers, which sets them apart from both reptiles and mammals.

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