Families overview for this order

  • Large nocturnal fruit-eating birds, with hooked bill, wide gape, long wings and tail, and short legs.
  • NW South America to Trinidad.
  • Roosts and nests gregariously in caves, locally from sea-level up to 3400 m; feeds in subtropical forests.

Suggested to constitute two separate families, one Asian, the other Australasian, on basis of DNA-DNA hybridization results#R; some backing for this may be offered by the different nest structures of the two groups, but to date similarities generally considered to outweigh differences, and the proposal has received little support.

  • Small to large, stocky nocturnal birds with strong, wide bill, short legs, and upright stance when perched.
  • Oriental and Australasian Regions.
  • Mainly forest or woodland, several species extending into second growth, wooded savanna or dry scrub; mostly at low elevations, some species reaching 2250 m.
  • Medium-sized nocturnal birds with large head, small body, long wings and tail, and very short legs.
  • Neotropical.
  • Forests, mainly humid.
  • Small to large nocturnal birds, with variegated plumage, large mouth, long wings and tail, and short legs.
  • Cosmopolitan, although absent from polar regions.
  • Desert, grassland and open wooded country to forest, from sea-level up to 4200 m.
  • Small to medium-sized nocturnal birds, with wide but rather weak bill, short legs and upright stance when perching.
  • Australasia.
  • Mainly forests or woodland, one species extending into open, dry scrubland.
  • Small to large branch-perching swifts, partly glossy, with long wingtips that fold scissor-like across deeply forked tail; two species with erectile forehead-crest, others with facial plumes.
  • Oriental Region E to Solomon Is.
  • Deciduous savanna woodland to evergreen rainforest.
  • Small to medium-sized aerial birds with long, narrow wings and short, thin legs, but strong toes with sharp claws; plumage generally rather drab.
  • Cosmopolitan.
  • Wide variety of habitats, usually not far from water.
  • Small to tiny fast-flying birds, with extensively iridescent plumage, many with strikingly coloured gorget or crest; thin bill extremely variable, from short to extremely long, from straight to sharply curved; feet tiny.
  • New World, mainly Neotropical.
  • Wide variety of habitats, wherever suitable food plants occur, from sea-level up to c. 5000 m, with greatest diversity in submontane zone.