Ornithology Collections

The Academy maintains an ornithological collection of over 205,000 study skins and 17,000 tissue samples. Specimens of historical importance in the collection predate the founding of the Academy in 1812 and include important early bird collections made by famous collectors such as Alexander Wilson, John James Audubon, and John Gould. The collection also contains large recently added series of data rich specimens from North America, South America, Asia, Africa, and Australia. The Academy’s ornithology department is actively adding specimens, locally and internationally, at a rate of ~1500 specimens per year.

Major series of birds in the collection come from South America (60,000 skins), North America (5,000 skins), Asia (25,000 skins), and Africa (20,000 skins), with additional significant holdings from Central America and Australia. The collection also contains an extensive series of types (ca. 1600 specimens) and skins of extinct and endangered species (ca. 2500 specimens). The collection has significant holdings from around the world, including one of the most extensive series of Andean birds.

John Gould Collection

Gould Collection In the 19th Century, the Academy of Natural Sciences purchased a number of large, important European collections of birds. In 1848, Thomas B. Wilson, an Academy trustee, purchased 1500 Australian bird skins from John Gould. The Gould Collection is exceptionally rich in type specimens.