Families overview for this order

  • Medium-sized terrestrial waders, with long legs, long wings and cryptic plumage; bill usually short, but large and heavy in some species.
  • All regions except Antarctic, but mainly tropical; greatest diversity in Old World.
  • Semi-arid to arid open areas, sometimes linked with water; one species strictly coastal.
  • Chunky, pigeon-like shorebirds with stout legs and distinctive bill sheaths.
  • Antarctic Peninsula and subantarctic islands of Atlantic and Indian Oceans.
  • Terrestrial and intertidal.

Formerly included in Charadriidae, sometimes in its own subfamily, but analysis of morphological characters indicates closer relationship to Chionidae#R#R; this relationship is supported by genetic data#R, which also suggest placement of Pluvianellus in a monotypic family, a conclusion backed up by recent analysis of phenotypic characters#R. Recently treated as a subfamily within Chionidae#R.

Traditionally placed within Glareolidae; phylogenetic data confirm its distinctiveness, and indicate that it is distant from that family, being sister to the plover and oystercatcher/stilt/avocet clades#R.

  • Medium-sized shorebirds, with black or black and white plumage, pinkish legs and a long, dagger-like orange-red bill.
  • Cosmopolitan, but absent from polar regions and marginal in tropical parts of Africa and Asia.
  • Mainly coastal, but also inland in Palearctic and New Zealand.

Traditionally linked with Recurvirostridae and Haematopodidae, and has sometimes even been included within the former, typically in its own subfamily. Genetic data support these relationships, with latter as sister-group#R.

  • Distinctive medium-sized wader, strongly built but elegant, with contrasting plumage, decurved bill and long legs.
  • Mountain systems of Central Asia.
  • Shingle-bed rivers.
  • Tall, elegant wading birds, with very long legs, longish and upcurved or medium-length and straight bill, and mostly pied plumage.
  • Cosmopolitan, with greatest diversity in Australasian Region.
  • Extensive open wetlands.
  • Small to medium-sized upright shorebirds, with round head, large eyes and short, pointed bill.
  • All regions except Antarctic; almost all areas support several species.
  • Open habitats, both wet and dry, including great variety of wetlands, coastal shoreline, grassland, tundra, steppe and semi-desert.

Traditionally placed in Gruiformes, in close association with Turnicidae, but genetic data#R#R#R#R indicate that it is sister to Thinocoridae, both belonging to the scolopacine radiation of the Charadriiformes.

  • Small, quail-like terrestrial birds, with slim bill and very short tail; unlike Turnicidae, hind toe present.
  • Australia.
  • Sparse native grasslands.
  • Small to medium-sized birds with short legs and bills, resembling quails or partridges, but with snipe-like flight.
  • Neotropical Region.
  • Alpine vegetation, steppe and semi-desert, from sea-level up to 5500 m.
  • Medium-sized waders, superficially resembling true snipes, with large eyes, long bill and relatively short, broad wings.
  • All regions except Nearctic and Antarctic.
  • Wetlands, especially swamps and wet grassland, normally at low altitude.
  • Medium-sized, strikingly coloured waterbirds, with elongated legs, toes and claws.
  • Pantropical, extending into subtropics.
  • Shallow freshwater wetlands.

Sequence of species in this family is based largely on findings of a recent phylogenetic study#R.

  • Small to medium-sized waders with short to long legs; bill often long and may be straight, decurved or slightly recurved.
  • All regions except Antarctic; most species breed in Northern Hemisphere and are highly migratory.
  • Mainly coastal and on inland wetlands; breeds in open steppe, grassland, marsh, tundra, scrubland and even forest.

Previously placed in Gruiformes, but now universally accepted as belonging in Charadriiformes#R#R#R.

  • Small, plump, quail-like terrestrial birds, with short legs, no hind toe and a rudimentary tail.
  • Afrotropical, Oriental and Australasian Regions; peripheral in SW Palearctic.
  • Grassland to forest, from sea-level up to 2500 m.

Previously placed in its own superfamily, mainly on grounds of plumage of downy chicks; sometimes grouped with Laridae or (because of burrow-nesting habits) with Alcidae. Few recent studies have included material for this species#R, but nowadays normally considered closest to Glareolidae#R, and recent molecular work supports a sister-relationship for these two#R.

  • Medium-sized, long-legged wading birds with thick, powerful bill and burrow-nesting habits.
  • Indian Ocean coasts.
  • Coastal sandbanks and tidal mudflats, sandflats and coral reefs.
  • Plover-like or tern-like waders, with long or very long wings, and long or relatively short legs.
  • Old World tropics, with greatest diversity in Afrotropical Region.
  • Desert to savanna, with some species usually adjacent to water; mostly at lower elevations, but sometimes up to 2000 m or higher.
  • Fairly small to large, heavy-bodied, long-winged seabirds, with stout bill, webbed feet and generally rounded tail; most species white below with pale grey to black back and wings, some with dark hood when breeding.
  • Cosmopolitan.
  • Mainly coastal, but also inland in wide variety of habitats, typically near water.
  • Medium-sized to large gull-like piratical and predatory seabirds, with strong bill and plumage generally brown, or brown and white.
  • Cosmopolitan in all oceans, but mainly at high latitudes.
  • Predominantly marine, but also inhabits tundra.
  • Small to medium-sized marine, wing-propelled diving birds with stocky body, short wings and tail, mainly black or dark grey above and white below, and legs placed far back for swimming.
  • Circumpolar.
  • Exclusively marine, neritic and pelagic.