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Global birding in a nutshell (or is it in an eggshell?) - Bird Families of the World! (1 Viewer)

Mysticete

Well-known member
United States
My top three would be:

Anatidae (82 species)
Scolopacidae (55 species)
Laridae (50)

My international birding has been almost entirely restricted to temperate climates (Japan, England, North America, New Zealand, etc). Those families are particularly well represented in those climates, so its perhaps not a surprise those are my top three. I am sure once I finally get a chance at the neotropics Tyrannidae at the very least will get bumped up.
 

Mysticete

Well-known member
United States
Although nowhere as expensive as Papua New Guinea, Madagascar or New Zealand, as far as New World endemic families are concerned, I'd say Cuba is the biggest pain in all of the US birder's list since the rights to enter the country change every so often and be sure to add a $500-$1000 passport VISA if you were originally born on the island and want to visit again (which is my case).

After checking my Scythebill records (based on eBird/Clements), I've only seen 80 out of 248 families, so I'm about 32% mostly due to limited birding in North America (US, Panama, and Cuba having at least one new family for me).


On a side note, has anyone seen which is the best represented family in their list? My top 3 families by numbers were:
  1. Tyrant Flycatchers (49/424 species)
  2. New World Warblers (37/110)
  3. True Tanagers and Allies (30/378) = Ducks and Waterfowl (30/174)
Really surprised that neither Sandpipers or Gulls were that high considering how readily available these families are in the US. But on the other hand, that weekend in Panama really padded spots 1 and 3 for me.
Cuba is logistically difficult, but on the other hand it really only has 1 endemic family, which I have heard isn't particularly difficult.

I spent a chunk of time in New Zealand on a research trip, and it still smarts that I dipped on the most iconic of the endemic birds, failing to get a Kiwi. Although I did see at least one member of every other endemic family. At least I can justify for research reasons another trip there.
 

lgonz1008

Well-known member
United States
Cuba is logistically difficult, but on the other hand it really only has 1 endemic family, which I have heard isn't particularly difficult.

I spent a chunk of time in New Zealand on a research trip, and it still smarts that I dipped on the most iconic of the endemic birds, failing to get a Kiwi. Although I did see at least one member of every other endemic family. At least I can justify for research reasons another trip there.
You're right about the family, in fact if you just care to get that family and not much else of the endemics a weekend trip to the Cayos (Cuban Keys) is enough to get you the Oriente Warbler, if however you want more endemics, then you could just do the same for a 5 or so day trip to the Zapata Peninsula where you can get around 20 of the islands endemics alongside some hard to find widespread megas like Stygian Owl. It comes down on whether you want the species numbers or just the family total.

But looking at family totals if you have only 1 island in the Caribbean to go to, hands down Hispaniola takes the cake, it has multiple endemic family plus most if not all of the representatives of the widespread endemic Caribbean families.
 

Mysticete

Well-known member
United States
I think my long term strategy is to hit Puerto Rico first, for Nesospingidae and the general Caribbean endemics. Then hit up Hispaniola. Although I don't see that plan going into place for another half decade, but hey, that is what quarantine is for: fantasizing about birding trips :p
 

lgonz1008

Well-known member
United States
I think my long term strategy is to hit Puerto Rico first, for Nesospingidae and the general Caribbean endemics. Then hit up Hispaniola. Although I don't see that plan going into place for another half decade, but hey, that is what quarantine is for: fantasizing about birding trips :p
My fantasizing has me already filled up to 2023 with 2 week trips to Arizona, Northern Ecuador and Northern Queensland to say a few. Question is if I'll actually have the chance to do it when the occasion comes!
 

Oz Horine

Member
Israel
My fantasizing has me already filled up to 2023 with 2 week trips to Arizona, Northern Ecuador and Northern Queensland to say a few. Question is if I'll actually have the chance to do it when the occasion comes!
Going for Olive Warbler on Lemon Mountain (AZ)? that's the only Nearctic endemic family :)
 

lgonz1008

Well-known member
United States
Going for Olive Warbler on Lemon Mountain (AZ)? that's the only Nearctic endemic family :)
Olive Warbler alongside a few Southwest US and Mexican specialties. I'll probably be able to add other families like Silky Flycatchers (Phainopepla) and Old World Parrots (Rosy-faced Lovebird is an established exotic in Phoenix).

So I'll hopefully add 3 bird families and around 50 lifers, let's just see if it goes through.
 

Nightjar61

David Daniels
United States
My total is 156 families, or 63%.

My top families are:
Tyrant Flycatchers (177)
Tanagers and Allies (136)
Hummingbirds (126)

Once international travel is possible again, I’ll be heading to the Dominican Republic, where I’ll be able to pick up a few more families. I was going to go in January, but decided to wait. I already paid a deposit to a local guide that I can apply toward a future trip

Dave
 

DMW

Well-known member
Papua New Guinea has to be by far the single most expensive location you need to visit to knock off all bird families. Going to be awhile before I can even entertain going someplace like that...
The Indonesian half of New Guinea (West Papua) is easier, safer and cheaper than PNG. It's possible to bird here independently on a modest budget.
 

Lerxst

Well-known member
I am currently at 206. We dipped on some notable families of the Eastern Hemisphere when we used to live in Asia, so we will be going back. The family goal is taking a backseat to first getting to about 5,400 lifer - enough to claim with confidence that I have seen the majority of species.
 

sandee

Daan Sandee
Anybody really interested? I'm at 241 (7 to go), and I don't think I'll ever get higher. I'm too old to climb hills in Assam to look for some stupid wren-babbler.
My birding partner, which whom I have spent the last twenty years roaming the world, once was down to zero missing families. The last one was Hylocitrea in Sulawesi in 2013. But they keep splitting and we've given up trying to keep up.

As to high species count, look for the largest families. Tyrant Flycatchers (252 or 59%), tanagers (238 or 63%), hummingbirds (203 or 58%). But I'm more proud of 92% of ducks, 91% of gulls, 75% of hawks. They're easier, although some were a long slog.

I don't catch the reference to Cuba. It wasn't all that difficult, when you used the right political moment, and I don't think they have an endemic family. Lots of endemics, but you can see a tody somewhere else.

Daan Sandee
 

DMW

Well-known member
Anybody really interested? I'm at 241 (7 to go), and I don't think I'll ever get higher. I'm too old to climb hills in Assam to look for some stupid wren-babbler.
My birding partner, which whom I have spent the last twenty years roaming the world, once was down to zero missing families. The last one was Hylocitrea in Sulawesi in 2013. But they keep splitting and we've given up trying to keep up.

As to high species count, look for the largest families. Tyrant Flycatchers (252 or 59%), tanagers (238 or 63%), hummingbirds (203 or 58%). But I'm more proud of 92% of ducks, 91% of gulls, 75% of hawks. They're easier, although some were a long slog.

I don't catch the reference to Cuba. It wasn't all that difficult, when you used the right political moment, and I don't think they have an endemic family. Lots of endemics, but you can see a tody somewhere else.

Daan Sandee
I'm glad somebody else still calls it a Wren-Babbler! To hell with Cupwings and Elachuras ;)
However, there's no need to exert yourself to see Spotted Wren-Babbler, it's a roadside if you pick the right road, and not uncommon once you learn the song.
 

Mysticete

Well-known member
United States
Anybody really interested? I'm at 241 (7 to go), and I don't think I'll ever get higher. I'm too old to climb hills in Assam to look for some stupid wren-babbler.
My birding partner, which whom I have spent the last twenty years roaming the world, once was down to zero missing families. The last one was Hylocitrea in Sulawesi in 2013. But they keep splitting and we've given up trying to keep up.

As to high species count, look for the largest families. Tyrant Flycatchers (252 or 59%), tanagers (238 or 63%), hummingbirds (203 or 58%). But I'm more proud of 92% of ducks, 91% of gulls, 75% of hawks. They're easier, although some were a long slog.

I don't catch the reference to Cuba. It wasn't all that difficult, when you used the right political moment, and I don't think they have an endemic family. Lots of endemics, but you can see a tody somewhere else.

Daan Sandee
Terestridae, which consists of two species formerly considered warblers. Endemic to Cuba.
 

ovenbird43

Well-known member
I'm at 186. I'll have to go through later to see what my top families are. I'm guessing Tyrant Flycatchers and Hummingbirds are in there, just for sheer diversity of those families and the fact that I have extensively traveled the Neotropics.
 

sandee

Daan Sandee
Terestridae, which consists of two species formerly considered warblers. Endemic to Cuba.
Right, but that must have split after I did Cuba with Audubon in 2012. Got all endemics except the rail. So I had both warblers and later an armchair family. -- Daan
 

Mysticete

Well-known member
United States
yeah the family was split off a few years ago in the big nine-primaried oscine revision, which ended up creating I believe 5 new Caribbean endemic families including the Terestridae
 

sandee

Daan Sandee
What are you other missing 5 families Daan, beside Elachuras & Cuba Warblers?
Sapayoa
Mottled Berryhunter
Ifrita
Melampittas
Spotted Elachura
Dapple-throat and Allies
Wrenthrush

I've been to PNG twice and still miss Ifrita. Berryhunter and the melampittas were split after we were there, or we would have insisted. (We did insist on berrypeckers.)
I've been to Bhutan twice (lots of fun, no endemic families), again, before they split the Elachura, so it was not on our wishlist. The easiest would probably be to go to Costa Rica and get Wrenthrush.
All of these except for the Sapayoa are recent splits - recent for me, that is. And all of them are in places we've been before, so it's that much less fun to go there again just because of a split.

We started this game after Madagascar, when we discovered we were way over 200, and the end was in reach. In fifteen years, I've added 24 families, plus some armchair ticks, like splitting Sylviidae. But we can't manage it any more, and we've lost not one, but probably two years because of the virus.

-- Daan
 

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