The classification of living organisms (biological taxonomy) is a complex and much-debated topic. Classifying biodiversity is essential in our efforts to conserve it. However, because the way organisms are classified is subjective, and different species concepts are used, the make-up of different bird checklists varies.

Recognising the important function of accurate and current bird lists, BirdLife Australia in conjunction with partners, has developed the Working List of Australian Birds (WLAB). The list is multi-functional:

  • The WLAB provides regular, considered and comprehensive taxonomic updates for all known Australian bird species and subspecies following a practical and long-standing taxonomic approach.
  • The list includes up-to-date conservation assessments (based on The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2010 and subsequent updates from the BirdLife Australia Threatened Species Committee).
  • It defines all birds that are listed in our primary piece of national protective legislation — the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act 1999.
  • It takes an ultrataxon approach ensuring data integrity in an age of large taxonomic change. This means that we will always have the best detail of bird data to assist us with threatened bird recovery programs, which are conducted at both species and subspecies levels.
  • The WLAB also preserves BirdLife Australia’s long established tradition of providing consistent, practical nomenclature for Australian bird species – under the auspices of the BirdLife Australia English Names Committee, thus ensuring the immeasurably valuable social capital associated with our birds is protected.

For more information on taxonomy click here. To download the latest version of the Working List v.3 click on the spreadsheet below. Note that the latest list has not been finalised yet, with taxonomic changes to be implemented in Birdata in the 2nd half of 2020.

Working List of Australian Birds


The Tony & Lisette
Lewis Foundation
through a WildlifeLink
grant funded the
Birdata app and
the original Birdata