Wikipedia:WikiProject Birds

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The aim of this WikiProject is to set out broad suggestions about how we organise articles about birds and related topics. In general, these are only suggestions, and you shouldn't feel obliged to follow them.


extant and extinct), as well as articles relating to bird anatomy, physiology, evolution, behaviours, diseases and parasites. Also included are articles relating to the study (ornithology) and the keeping (aviculture
) of birds, articles on ornithological organisations, biographies of notable ornithologists and their works, and lists of birds found in various human-defined areas (i.e. countries, states/provinces, counties, etc.).

Related projects

This WikiProject is an offshoot of WikiProject Tree of Life.

WikiProject Biology
WikiProject Tree of Life
WikiProject Animals
(WikiProject Amphibians and Reptiles, and then
WikiProject Dinosaurs, if you're a cladist)
WikiProject Birds
Domestic pigeon task force (defunct)
Poultry task force (inactive)

Related projects include:

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Spoken articles

The list of spoken articles concerning WikiProject Birds is found here.

Guidelines for layout of bird articles

Feel free to request assistance with references at the

reference request desk
and any bird-related assistance on the talk page.

Bird names and article titles

In general, use the formal common name for article titles.

Sometimes exceptions need to be made; some individual creatures (usually newly discovered ones) do not yet have a formal common name and some groups are known only by their

scientific name

Ornithology publications usually capitalise the vernacular name of a species to differentiate it from more general terms.[1] Following discussions, it has been decided that capitals will be used on Wikipedia only for parts of the name that are proper names, consistent with practice in more general-audience publications.[2]

In publications that capitalise, the phrase "in Australia there are many Common Starlings" clearly indicates a large number of Sturnus vulgaris, while the phrase "in Australia there are many common starlings" could indicate several different types of starling being common. Clearer formulation must be used in a non-capitalising publication like Wikipedia: e.g., "in Australia the common starling is numerous", vs. "in Australia many types of starling are common". Add binomial names in round brackets (parentheses) to reduce any ambiguity if necessary.


most common name in reliable sources is different from the IOC name.[3]
A non-IOC name might also be used in article text in a non-ornithological context, e.g. the animal-related folklore of a traditional culture; or in a specific ornithological context, such as the nomenclature of an organisation other than IOC.

Article titlemake redirects from
White-Necked Raven
Black-Faced Cuckoo-Shrike
Prairie Warbler

When creating a new article for a species, make sure the title is correctly capitalised and create a

article. In this case, redirect links should also be made for the full scientific names of those subspecies as well.

Per this discussion and as amended in this discussion, the consensus style to write the combination of common name plus scientific name in the lead is bolded common name followed by bolded italicised scientific name in parentheses:

The house sparrow (Passer domesticus) is a passerine bird ...

Summary of naming guidelines – common names

  • The common name of a particular species is not capitalised, except where proper names appear (e.g. common blackbird, metallic starling, emu, ostrich, New Zealand scaup).
  • The name of a group of species is not capitalised (e.g. birds, thrush family, kingfishers, turtle doves, marsh harriers).
  • Alternative common names should be mentioned where appropriate; with bold type in the opening line of the article if they are in wide use, elsewhere in the article (with or without the bold type) if they are less-used. This is usually a matter for individual judgement.

Summary of naming guidelines – scientific names

  • Orders, families and other taxa above genus level are written with an initial capital and in roman (not italic) text: birds belong to the class Aves; ducks are members of the family Anatidae and the order Anseriformes.
  • The names of genera are always italicised and capitalised: Turdus, Falco, Anas.
  • Species epithets are never capitalised, always italicised, and always preceded by either the genus name or a one-letter abbreviation of it: Alcedo pusilla or A. pusilla, Cisticola juncidis or C. juncidis. The abbreviation is used only when it is unambiguous in the context of the article.
  • The placements in families and genera as well as the boundaries of the species are themselves not always unambiguous or without debate. Although the IOC list is usually up-to-date, new species and large-scale phylogenetic studies may sometimes suggest alternate placements (both binomial combinations as well as higher level classification). These alternate positions are best included with citations with the taxonomic history, older combinations and rationale explained with citations in the article.

Regional lists

It is recommended for the sake of consistency that regional lists are named as List of birds of [Region] rather than List of [Region-adjective] birds.

Article sections

Most of the bird species articles have a common structure which include various combinations of the following:

  • Taxonomy and systematics (including subspecies, relation to related species, history of naming, alternate names, and evolution)
  • Description (often including details on immature plumage, moult, vocalisations, identification, and similar species)
  • Distribution and habitat
  • Behaviour and ecology
    • Breeding
    • Food and feeding
    • Threats or Survival
  • In culture or Relationship to humans
  • Status

Additional sections may be included to cover aspects that are particularly interesting or well studied in that species.


Barn swallow
H. r. rustica
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Hirundinidae
Genus: Hirundo
H. rustica
Binomial name
Hirundo rustica
Range of H. rustica
  Breeding range
  Resident year-round
  Non-breeding range

In general, bird articles should have

infoboxes). This is something we have inherited from the WikiProject Tree of Life
. There are many examples there to look at.

See Wikipedia:Automated taxobox system for the full details on constructing a taxobox.

There are several example bird taxoboxes, suitable for cut-and-paste insertion into entries:

Adding images

Images in bird articles should be added with care and captioned carefully. If the taxobox is empty - consider adding one that shows the full bird, preferably facing into the text. If the species is sexually dimorphic, you may consider adding a second image to the taxobox, or distribute the other images in the text carefully. Do not add images to the lead section. If a bird article is well-illustrated, examine the quality of the images before adding your own, and do not add an image just because you took the picture. If the species has multiple subspecies with distinctive plumage variations, make a note of the features in the caption and the general region (not to the accuracy of a delivery address - accurate locations and dates should be included in the image metadata on Wikimedia Commons). Photos of live birds are preferred in an article's taxobox, but artwork or photos of stuffed specimens can be used if the first are unavailable or of inadequate quality

Illustrate specific behaviours or plumages in the appropriate location. If absolutely necessary, add a gallery towards the end of the article to accommodate multiple images, there is no need to explicitly add a section called "Gallery". The captions ideally need to add value to the text, calling attention to specifics mentioned in the article where possible. If the text flow is being disrupted or if the images are flowing into the reference section, it probably means that there are more images than needed for the article, consider researching and improving the article with more text. Remember that people can always visit the images in the appropriate Commons categories or gallery pages which should linked using the appropriate template at the end of the article.

Distribution maps

A good way to show a bird's area of occurrence is to add a distribution map; see the above example on how. Species with tiny areas of occurrence should get larger maps which are displayed thumbnailed.

As for colors, the following are generally accepted as literature standard, for example by the

Handbook of Birds of the World

  •    Breeding visitor
  •    Non-breeding visitor
  •    Resident
  •    Introduced range

For species that do not migrate, a single color can be used as in the example. At-sea range of birds like albatrosses is usually marked in darker or lighter blue. Small islands can be marked with a larger dot and/or shown magnified in inserts. Migration flyways are often indicated with arrows. Areas of irruptive occurrence- more regular and plentiful than casual vagrancy, such as in crossbill species–can be indicated by colored stippling.

It is good to use basic,

standard) or red (many other), the former is probably preferable due to unambiguity.

The "HBW standard" colors have one major advantage: they can also, due to differences in brightness, be distinguished by almost all people with some sort of color blindness.

Linking to definitions in Glossary of bird terms

The headlined glossary article (Wikipedia's only featured glossary) contains definitions for many terms that may be useful to link to in bird articles. (Nevertheless, please be mindful of

pipe a link to a definition, in the form: {{Birdgloss|actual term|display term}}. See the template's documentation
for more information.

Linking bird calls and songs

Dickcissel male perched on a metal pole singing, with neck stretched and beak open.

Songs and calls

Call of the Kookaburra:

Bird vocalisations can be linked in articles using the template {{Birdsong}}. It provides an attractive link wrapper to recordings of songs and calls listed for that species at – which we use as very few Wikimedia Commons audio files exist. However, where they do, up to four of them can be added to the template, which allows them to be played directly in the article. An example use of the template appears at right, linking to the extraordinary call of the Kookaburra
. See the template's documentation for its syntax and how to modify its parameters, including how to change the default image to any one you specify.

Other infoboxes



  • {{Barn Owl Barnstar}} - To use this template, add {{subst:Barn Owl Barnstar|1=Put your message here. ~~~~}} to the talk page of the user to whom you wish to award it.

WPBIRDS invitation

  • {{WPBIRDS Invite}} - To invite a user to this project, add {{subst:WPBIRDS Invite|~~~~}} to the talk page of the user that you wish to invite. You can also use {{subst:WPBIRDS Invite|article=article name|~~~~}}, replacing article name with the name of the article.


  1. ^ del Hoyo, Josep; Elliott, Andrew; Sargatal, Jordi, eds. (1998). Handbook of the Birds of the World, Volume 1: Ostrich to Ducks. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. p. 25.
  2. 2–3). In 2014, a request for comments settled
    that lower case will be used, as is consistent with other taxa.
  3. ^ This might involve a discussion to determine the most appropriate name.