Aequornithes includes the clades;

  • Gaviiformes - loons
  • Austrodyptornithes:
    • Procellariiformes - albatrosses and petrels
    • Sphenisciformes - penguins
  • Ciconiiformes - storks
  • Suliformes - boobies, cormorants, etc.
  • Pelecaniformes:
    • Pelecanidae - Pelicans
      • Shoebills
      • Hamerkops
    • Threskiornithidae - ibises and spoonbills
    • Ardeidae - herons and egrets.

It does not include several unrelated groups of aquatic birds such as flamingos and grebes (Mirandornithes), shorebirds and auks (Charadriiformes), or the Anseriformes.

Based on a whole-genome analysis of the bird orders, the kagu and sunbittern (Eurypygiformes) and the three species of tropicbirds (Phaethontiformes) together styled as the Eurypgimorphae are the closest sister group of the Aequornithes in the clade Ardeae.

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