Michael Hines asked for this information yesterday, and today suggested I
post it to birding-aus for the benefit of other birders. Apologies to those
to whom it is old hat.
>A quick reply on the sequences. The traditional sequence goes back largely
to a Germ Ornithologist named Gadow in the late nineteenth century. He used
morphology to group birds. This is the family sequence that you get in
Peters Checklist and also in most field guides. It's the one most
birdwatchers are used to.
>In recent years, ornithologists have come largely to rely on
micro-molecular techniques, such as studying the gen sequences of birds, or
DNA-DNA hybridisation. This led to Sibley and Monroe's sequence in which
the order of families is somewhat different from the traditional sequence.
Morphology is pliable under environmental pressures. So the fact that the
Australian Pomatostomid babblers have curved bills like the Scimitar
Babblers of Asia does not mean the two are related, but is due to convergence.
>Gill published a family sequence in the first edition of his book
Ornbithology. This was a compromise, in that he accepted some, but not all,
of the changes proposed by Sibley-Monroe. This sequence enjoys some
popularity in the US because Clements used Gill's first edition sequence in
his checklist. Gill published a second edition, in which the family
sequence in the Appendix has moved still further in the direction of
>I hope this helps.
Associate Professor John M. Penhallurick<>
Phone BH( 61 6) 201 2346 AH (61 6 2585428)
FAX (61 6) 258 0426
Snail Mail Faculty of Communication
University of Canberra, PO Box 1, BELCONNEN, A.C.T.2616,
OR PO Box 3469, BMDC, BELCONNEN, ACT 2617, AUSTRALIA
"I'd rather be birding!"