Birds are not only beautiful but also a fantastically useful study system for testing hypotheses across a decent-sized sample of 10,000 species worldwide. The main problem with such diversity is that it’s easy to get lost in the data and hard to interpret the results. Direct experience can help. I feel lucky to have started out birding in early teens, and to have seen over 6000 bird species since then. This page is a collection of personal images which hopefully put our research into more vivid context – a world of real organisms living in real environments shared with real people. All photographs taken by and copyright of Joe Tobias.

Click on the images below to see examples of diversity in each avian order (in reverse evolutionary sequence from passerines to paleognaths).