The superorder Accipitrimorphae is represented by the order Accipitriformes (here including Cathartidae, which are sometimes placed in their own order, Cathartiformes). The Accipitriformes s.l. contain the following families: 

  • Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, Kites, Harriers, New World Vultures) 
  • Pandionidae (Osprey)
  • Sagittariidae (Secretarybird)
  • Cathartidae (New World Vultures)

Family-level timetree of extant Accipitriformes s.l. based on Kuhl et al. (2021), with the distribution of each taxon being indicated by the colour-code used throughout this website (Distribution code). [Note that divergent times are considerably younger than those proposed by Catanach et al., 2023; see below). 


The genus-level phylogeny of Accipitriformes is shown in the following timetree: 

Genus-level timetree of extant Accipitriformes based on Catanach et al. (2023), with the distribution of each taxon being indicated by the colour-code used throughout this website (Distribution code)

Genus-level classification of extant Accipitriformes. Note that the accipitrid subfamily Elaninae is sometimes attributed family status (Starikov & Wink, 2020). 


do Amaral FSR, Miller MJ, Silveira LF, Bermingham E, and Wajntal A (2006), Polyphyly of the hawk genera Leucopternis and Buteogallus (Aves, Accipitridae): multiple habitat shifts during the Neotropical buteonine diversification. BMC Evol. Biol. 6:10. (pdf)

do Amaral FSR, Sheldon FH, Gamauf A, Haring E, Riesing M, Silveira LF, and Wajntal A (2009), Patterns and processes of diversification in a widespread and ecologically diverse avian group, the buteonine hawks (Aves, Accipitridae). Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 53, 703-715. (abstract)

Barrowclough GF, Groth JG, Lai JE, and Tsang SM (2014), The phylogenetic relationships of the endemic genera of Australo-Papuan hawks, J. Raptor Res. 48, 36-43. (pdf)

Breman FC, Jordaens K, Sonet G, Nagy ZT, Van Houdt J, and Louette M (2013), DNA barcoding and evolutionary relationships in Accipiter Brisson, 1760 (Aves, Falconiformes: Accipitridae) with a focus on African and Eurasian representatives, J. Ornithol. 154, 265-287. (abstract)

Catanach TA, Halley MR, and Pirro S (2024), Enigmas no longer: using ultraconserved elements to place several unusual hawk taxa and address the non-monophyly of the genus Accipiter (Accipitriformes: Accipitridae), Biol. J. Linn. Soc. in press, (pdf) 

Gregory SMS, Sangster G, Worthy TH, and Scofield RP (2024), Falling through the cracks: a family-group name for a clade of hawks and eagles (Accipitridae) including Morphnus Dumont, 1816, Harpia Viellot, 1816, Harpyopsis Salvadori, 1875 and Macheiramphus Bonaparte, 1850, Avian Syst. 2, N5-N17. (pdf)

Helbig AJ, Kocum A, Seibold I, and Braun MJ (2005), A multi-gene phylogeny of aquiline eagles (Aves: Accipitriformes) reveals extensive paraphyly at the genus level, Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 35, 147-164. (abstract)

Johnson JA, Brown JW, Fuchs J, and Mindell DP (2016), Multi-locus phylogenetic inference among New World vultures (Aves: Cathartidae), Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 105, 193-199(abstract)

Kuhl H, Frankl-Vilches C, Bakker A, Mayr G, Nikolaus G, Boerno ST, Klages S, Timmermann B, and Gahr M (2021), An unbiased molecular approach using 3'UTRs resolves the avian family-level tree of life, Mol. Biol. Evol. 38, 108-127. (pdf)

Lerner HRL, Klaver MC, and Mindell DP (2008), Molecular phylogenetics of the buteonine birds of prey (Accipitridae), The Auk 125, 304-315. (abstract)

Lerner H, Christidis L, Gamauf A, Griffiths C, Haring E, Huddleston CJ, Kabra S, Kocum A, Krosby M, Kvaløy K, Mindell D, Rasmussen P, Røv N, Wadleigh R, Wink M, and Gjershaug JO (2017), Phylogeny and new taxonomy of the Booted Eagles (Accipitriformes: Aquilinae), Zootaxa 4216, 301-320. (pdf)

Mindell DP, Fuchs J, and Johnson JA (2018), Phylogeny, taxonomy, and geographic diversity of diurnal raptors: Falconiformes, Accipitriformes, and Cathartiformes, In: Sarasola, J.H. et al., Birds of prey, Chapter 1, 3-32. Springer. (abstract)

Nagy J, and Tökölyi J (2014), Phylogeny, historical biogeography and the evolution of migration in accipitrid birds of prey (Aves: Accipitriformes), Ornis hungarica 22, 15-35. (pdf)

Oatley G, Simmons RE, and Fuchs J (2015), A molecular phylogeny of the harriers (Circus, Accipitridae) indicate the role of long distance dispersal and migration in diversification, Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 85, 150-160. (abstract)

Sangster G, and Luksenburg JA (2021), Scientific data laundering: chimeric mitogenomes of a sparrowhawk and a nightjar covered-up by forged phylogenies. Biochem. Syst. Ecol. 96:104263. (abstract)

Sangster G, Kirwan GM, Fuchs J, Dickinson EC, Elliott A, and Gregory SMS (2021), A new genus for the tiny hawk Accipiter superciliosus and semicollared hawk A. collaris (Aves: Accipitridae), with comments on the generic name for the crested goshawk A. trivirgatus and Sulawesi goshawk A. griseiceps, Vertebr. Zool. 71, 419-424. (pdf)

Starikov, IJ, and Wink M (2020), Old and cosmopolite: molecular phylogeny of tropical-subtropical kites (Aves: Elaninae) with taxonomic implications, Diversity 12:327. (pdf)

Urantówka AD, Kroczak A, Strzala T, Zaniewicz G, Kurkowski M, and Mackiewicz P (2021), Mitogenomes of Accipitriformes and Cathartiformes were subjected to ancestral and recent duplications followed by gradual degradation, Genome BiolEvol. 13, e:evab193. (pdf)