HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Volume 1



Josep del Hoyo, Nigel J. Collar
David A. Christie, Andrew Elliott,  Lincoln D. C. Fishpool

Published by Lynx Edicions in association with BirdLife International

If you plan to buy both volumes, save by taking advantage of our Special Offer price for the set!

The first ever Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World is really two works in one. It is a complete checklist whose taxonomy incorporates the most up-to-date information and an exhaustive methodology (Tobias et al. 2010) in an entirely systematic and consistent way. At the same time, it contains illustrations and distribution maps for every bird species in the world. This includes the original artwork from the HBW series, as well as hundreds of new illustrations, all in two compact volumes.


HBW and BirdLife International taxonomy officially adopted by the United Nations Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals:

During the eleventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CMS (COP11), celebrated in Quito, Ecuador 4–9 November 2014, the HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World Volume 1: Non-passerines was officially adopted as the CMS standard reference for bird taxonomy and nomenclature for non-passerine species. The same resolution requests the CMS Scientific Council to consider the future adoption of Volume 2: Passerines, due to be published in 2016, as a standard reference for passerine bird taxonomy and nomenclature. Logically, this taxonomy has also been adopted by BirdLife International and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), including The IUCN Red List of Threatened SpeciesTM. Thus, the Checklist continues to grow in influence and importance, especially in terms of bird conservation.


What reviewers are saying about the Checklist:

"This book is unique. It is evolutionarily distinct, it fills its own bibliographical niche and has no competitors. And like any species that is radically different from its nearest relatives, it is original and captivating. I am not perhaps a typical checklist user, since I do not maintain a life list and do not feel particularly compelled to keep on top of the latest taxonomic arrangements, yet I have already spent entire days browsing the contents, and have the book placed for easy reference right next to my desk so that I can consult it as I work. If I have enjoyed it so much, those who want to anticipate the next split will find the book impossible to resist."
Christopher J. Sharpe, Neotropical Birding, Spring 2015

"So, 904 pages later, should you have it? Simply, yes. The book is a stunning visual collection of approximately half of the world’s birds, with sufficient text to satisfy those who want to know more about any species. In time, it might be the most used bird book you will ever own–whether just looking at the pictures, planning your next birding adventure or reliving previous ones."
David Wilson, Australian Birdlife, March 2015

"Whether or not you already own the full set of HBW, this ‘HBW-lite’ represents a handy, up-to-date and authoritative overview of the World’s birds."
Martin Collinson, Scottish Birds, March 2015

"Both volumes are a “must have” for ornithologists and are certainly great value for money."
SK, Vögel, February 2015

"So is this book really useful? Without question it is. It is now the most current and up-to-date checklist of world birds. It has been assembled by people who have spent over twenty years evaluating and deciding the taxonomic issues related to birds. It is a complete checklist of the non-passerine species using the most up-to-date taxonomy. Having both an illustration and a range map alongside of the species entry is a real blessing. It is an essential purchase for researchers and for all those engaged in world-wide birdwatching. Even if you are not a combat lister, you still need to know which species you have seen and where."
John Roy, Canadian Field Naturalist, 2014

"In my opinion this is, up to now, the best, clearest and most aesthetically pleasing checklist I have ever had the pleasure of studying. /.../ This provides a brilliant overview of each genus and family, with the birds’ appearance and distribution, name, status and subspecies presented for every species. Working on the HBW series has given the editors such great experience in how to produce a clear and elegant layout, that the presentation of the Illustrated Checklist is simply brilliant."
Lennart Nilsson, Anser, December 2014

 “HBW Checklist is clearly in a class of its own. Having a full checklist of all the non-passerine species and subspecies, together with illustrations and maps in one remarkable volume, simply cannot be beaten.”
Alan Knox, British Birds, November 2014

“As an overall package, this checklist cannot be recommended highly enough.”
Dominic Mitchell, Birdwatch, October 2014

“This list is now a benchmark, a reference that is hard to be ignored.”
Gerard Gorman, woodpeckersoftheworld.blogspot.com, September 2014

“It will surely become the new definitive taxonomy (at least until its next update).
This checklist is huge in every way - a huge undertaking, a huge achievement and a huge product.”
Andy Stoddart, www.rarebirdalert.co.uk, August 2014

Read this article from the June issue of World Birdwatch for some
insights into the new taxonomy and methodology of the Checklist.

Read this news release from BirdLife International.


  • Volume 1 (Non-passerines) Already available!
  • Volume 2 (Passerines) Publication date: 2016

 Summary of Volume 1: Non-passerines

    • 35 orders
    • 105 families
    • 988 genera
    • 4,372 extant species
 Appendix 1: Extinct Species (illustrated)
    • 50 species
 Appendix 2: Extinct Species (without illustration)
    • 49 species
 Appendix 3: Reference Maps

Taxonomic Results

In this Checklist, a modern, broad version of the Biological Species Concept (BSC) has been applied, with the aid of the scoring system to evaluate differences in morphology, vocalizations, ecology and geographical relationships published in Ibis by Tobias et al. (2010)*. For the non-passerines, this has resulted in relatively few lumps (21) but a much higher number of splits, 462 in total at the time of writing, compared with the taxonomy presented in the HBW series. Groups with major changes in species numbers include:

Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World - Taxonomic Results

* J.A. Tobias, N. Seddon, C.N. Spottiswoode, J.D. Pilgrim, L.D.C. Fishpool & N.J. Collar (2010). Quantitative criteria for species delimitation. Ibis. 152: 724–746.




Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World - Introduction

An extensive introduction, with many illustrated examples, explains the rationale and advantages of the taxonomic system adopted in the Checklist, as well as how to use the book.


Species Samples

HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World
1 Newly revised BirdLife International and NatureServe distribution maps for all species, with country borders included.
HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World
2 Colour illustrations for all species, including distinctive subspecies and morphs, from the HBW series with numerous corrections and new figures.
HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World
3 Plate layout subtly divided by species and genera for a clearer arrangement.
HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World
4 Revised species names in French, German and Spanish, and other common names in English when appropriate.
HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World
5 Colour-coded subspecies groups marked to highlight distinct forms and their relationships.
HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World
6 Completely updated at the macrosystematic, genus, species and subspecies levels.
HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World
7 Each species conveniently cross-referenced to the volume and page of its treatment in the HBW series.
HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World
8 Detailed descriptions of ranges for all species and subspecies.
HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World
9 Changes and other relevant issues fully explained under Taxonomic notes of each species.
HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World
10 Current official IUCN category of each species from the 2014 BirdLife International/IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World
11 Reference numbers included in text associated with complete bibliographical list at the end of the volume.


Extinct species

Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World - Extinct Species

Two appendices cover all the species considered to have become extinct since 1500. The first gives full treatment, including text, illustration and former range map, for the extinct species known from complete specimens. The second provides information for the extinct species not known from complete specimens.



Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World - Maps

Large-format maps offer the reader assistance in interpreting the distribution sections. They provide both administrative and physical details, for greater clarity of use.



About HBW

The Handbook of the Birds of the World (HBW) is the first work ever to illustrate and deal in detail with all the living species of birds. The 17-volume encyclopaedia contains texts and illustrations from 277 authors and 33 illustrators from 40 countries. The highly acclaimed series is the starting point for this Checklist, so the project already includes the work of a large group of specialists from around the world.


About BirdLife International

BirdLife International is the world’s largest nature conservation Partnership. Together we are 120 BirdLife Partners worldwide – one per country – and growing, with 13 million members and supporters, over 7,000 local conservation groups and 7,400 staff.
BirdLife’s vision is a world rich in biodiversity, where people and nature live in harmony. We are driven by our belief that local people, working for nature in their own places but connected nationally and internationally through our global Partnership, are the key to sustaining all life on this planet. This unique local-to-global approach delivers high- impact and long-term conservation for the benefit of nature and people.
BirdLife is widely recognised as the world leader in bird conservation. Rigorous science informed by practical feedback from projects on the ground in important sites and habitats enables us to implement successful conservation programmes for birds and all nature. As BirdLife is the official Red List Authority for birds for the IUCN and the taxonomy presented in this Checklist is the basis for the Red List decisions, this work has important implications for conservation.
BirdLife International would like this ongoing Checklist to be as participatory, open and transparent as possible. An online system will be established where anyone interested can provide information and comments on the work, and these will be considered for future editions.


About the Authors

Josep del Hoyo: Editor, Handbook of the Birds of the World (1992–2013); Director, HBW Alive; Member, BirdLife International Global Council (2004–2013); Vice- president, Spanish Ornithological Society SEO/BirdLife (1994–2008).
Nigel J. Collar: Leventis Fellow in Conservation Biology, BirdLife International; Author, Threatened Birds of Africa and related islands (1985), Threatened Birds of the Americas (1992), Threatened Birds of Asia (2001).
David A. Christie: Assistant Editor, British Birds (1973–2002); Editor, Handbook of the Birds of the World (2003–2013); Author, Woodpeckers: An Identification Guide to the Woodpeckers of the World (1995), The Macmillan Birder’s Guide to European and Middle Eastern Birds (1996), Raptors of the World (2001, 2005).
Andrew Elliott: Editor, Handbook of the Birds of the World (1992–2013).
Lincoln D. C. Fishpool: Global Science Co-ordinator (IBAs), BirdLife International; Author, Important Bird Areas in Africa and Associated Islands: Priority Sites for Conservation (2001).