The superorder Accipitrimorphae is represented only by the order Accipitriformes, which contains the following families: 

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

Timetree of the family-level relationships within Accipitriformes based on Kuhl et al. (2021), with the distribution of each taxon being indicated by the colour-code used throughout this website (see Distribution code).  


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

Timetree of Accipitriformes based on Mindell et al. (2018), with the distribution of each taxon being indicated by the colour-code used throughout this website (see Distribution code). The intrinsic phylogeny of Cathartidae follows Johnson et al. (2016). The accipitrid subfamily Elaninae is sometimes attributed family status, Elanidae (Starikov & Wink, 2020). 


Timetree of the accipitrid subfamilies Accipitrinae and Buteoninae based on Mindell et al. (2018), with the distribution of each taxon being indicated by the colour-code used throughout this website (see Distribution code). 


Amaral, F.S.R., F.H. Sheldon, A. Gamauf, E. Haring, M. Riesing, L.F.  Silveira, and A. Wajntal (2008), Patterns and processes of

diversification in a widespread and ecologically diverse avian group, the buteonine hawks (Aves, Accipitridae). Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 53, 703-715. DOI: 10.16/j.ympev.2009.07.020. (abstract)

Barrowclough, G.F., J.G. Groth, J.E. Lai, and S.M. Tsang (2014), The phylogenetic relationships of the endemic genera of Australo-

Papuan hawks, J. Raptor Res. 48, 36-43. DOI: 10.3356/JRR-13-33. (abstract)

Breman, F.C., K. Jordaens, G. Sonet, Z.T. Nagy, J. Van Houdt, and M. Louette (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. DOI: 10.1007/s10336-012-0892-5. (abstract)

Johnson, J.A., J.W. Brown, J. Fuchs, and D.P. Mindell (2016), Multi-locus phylogenetic inference among New World vultures (Aves:

Cathartidae), Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 105, 193-199. DOI: 10.1016/j.ympev.2016.08.025. (abstract)

Kuhl, H., C. Frankl-Vilches, A. Bakker, G. Mayr, G. Nikolaus, S.T. Boerno, S. Klages, B. Timmermann, and M. Gahr (2021), An unbiased

molecular approach using 3'UTRs resolves the avian family-level tree of life, Mol. Biol. Evol. 38(1), 108-127. DOI: 10.1093/molbev/msaa191. (pdf)

Lerner, H.R.L., M.C. Llaver, and D.P. Mindell (2008), Molecular phylogenetics of the buteonine birds of prey (Accipitridae), Auk 304,

304-315. DOI: 10.1525/auk.2008.06161. (abstract)

Lerner, H., L. Christidis, A. Gamauf, C. Griffiths, E. Haring, C.J. Huddleston, S. Kabra, A. Kocum, M. Krosby, K. Kvalo, D. Mindell, P.

Rasmussen, N. Rov, R. Wadleigh, M. Wink, and J. Ove Gjershaug (2017), Phylogeny and new taxonomy of the Booted Eagles (Accipitriformes: Aquilinae), Zootaxa 4216, 301-320. DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.4216.4.1. (pdf)

Mindell, D.P., J. Fuchs, and J.A. Johnson (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, G., and J. Tökölyi (2014), Phylogeny, historical biogeography and the evolution of migration in accipitrid birds of prey (Aves:

Accipitriformes), Ornis hungarica, 22(1), 15-35. DOI: 10.2478/orhu-2014-0008. (pdf)

Oatley, G., R.E. Simmons, and J. Fuchs (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. DOI: 10.1016/j.ympev.2015.01.013.

Starikov, I.J., and M. Wink (2020), Old and cosmopolite: molecular phylogeny of tropical-subtropical kites (Aves: Elaninae) with

taxonomic implications, Diversity, 12, 327. DOI: 10.3390/d12090327.