This order comprises the following families:

  • Ardeidae (Herons)
  • Pelecanidae (Pelicans)
  • Balaenicipitidae (Shoebill)
  • Scopidae (Hamerkop)
  • Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)

Timetree of Pelecaniformes, with the distribution of each family being indicated by the colour-code used throughout this website (see Distribution code). 


Chesser, R.T., C.K.L. Yeung, C.-T. Yao, X.-H. Tian, and S.H. Lee (2010), Molecular phylogeny of the spoonbills (Aves: Threskiornithidae) based on

mitochondrial DNAZootaxa 66, 53-60. DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.2603.1.2. (abstract) 

Duan, Y., S. Shao, Y. Li, and X. Luo (2018), The complete mitochondrial genome and phylogenetic analysis of White-bellied Heron Ardea insignis

(Pelecaniformes: Ardeidae)Mitochondrial DNA Part B 3(2), 1284-1285. DOI: 10.1080/23802359.2018.1532842(pdf) 

Hruska, J.P. (2018), "A phylogenomic evaluation of the relationships among herons (Aves, Ardeidae)"Master´s Thesis, University of Kansas. (pdf)

Huang, T., Y. Wang, YL Zhou, and Z. Xu (2019), Complete mitochondrial genome of Pelecanus crispus and its phylogenyMitochondrial DNA Part B 4(2),

3075-3076. DOI: 10.1080. 23802359.2019.1666679(pdf) 

Kennedy, M., S.A. Taylor, P. Nádvorník, and H.G. Spencer (2013), The phylogenetic relationships of the extant pelicans inferred from DNA sequence data,

Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 2603, 215-222. DOI: 10.1016/j.ympev.2012.09.034. (abstract)

Krattinger, F. (2010), "Molecular phylogeny of Threskiornithidae", Master´s Thesis, University of Fribourg. 

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)

Liang, W.-L., J. Zhu, and Z.-M. Ren (2019), Complete mitochondrial genome of Ciconia nigra (Ciconiiformes: Ciconiidae), a threatened stork in

China, Mitochondrial DNA Part B 4(2), 2509-2510. DOI: 10.1080/23802.359.2019.1640082. (pdf)

Päckert, M., J. Hering, E. Fuchs, P. Barthel, and W. Heim (2014), Genetic barcoding confirms first breeding record of the Yellow Bittern, Ixobrychus sinensis,

(Aves: Pelecaniformes, Ardeidae) in the Western Palearctic. Vertebr. Zool. 64(2), 251-260. (pdf)

Prum, R.O., J.S. Berv, A. Dornburg, D.J. Field, J.P. Townsend, E.M. Lemmon and A.R. Lemmon (2015), A comprehensive phylogeny of birds (Aves) using

 targeted next-generation DNA sequencing, Nature 526, 569-57. (abstract)

Ramirez, J.L., C.Y. Miyaki, and S.N. Del Lama (2013), Molecular phylogeny of Threskiornithidae (Aves: Pelecaniformes) based on nuclear and mitochondrial

DNAGenet. Mol. Res. 12(3), 2740-2750. DOI: 10.4238/2013.July.30.11. (pdf) 

Zhou, X., Q Lin, W. Fang, and X. Chen (2014), The complete mitochondrial genomes of sixteen ardeid birds revealing the evolutionary process of the gene

rearrangementsBMC Genomics. 15, 573. (pdf) 

Great White Pelican (Pelecanus onocrotalus).

Dalmatian Pelican (Pelecanus crispus).

Hamerkop (Scopus umbretta) (Foto: Mary Yalda). 

Shoebill (Balaeniceps rex) waiting motionlessly in swamps for fish, lungfish and other prey.