The Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History’s Division of Birds features more than 640,000 specimens and is considered to be the world’s third largest bird collection. Identified by the acronym USNM (United States National Museum), the National Collection represents up to eighty percent of the world’s known avifauna species, of which there are around 9,600. The collection is specifically available for scientific research by both resident staff and visiting scientists, with the National Museum of Natural History hosting between 200 and 400 such visitors each year. While the collection is not open to the public, the searchable online database maintained by the USNM contains information on more than 400,000 of the collection’s specimens.
The Bird Division Hall of Fame pays tribute to men who have significantly contributed to the study of birds and the collection since its inception in the mid-1800s. Among the Hall of Famers is Spencer F. Baird (1823-1887) who was the Assistant Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution from 1850 to 1878. His donation of more than 3,600 birds formed the foundation of the collection, and he was also a founding member of the American Ornithologists Union and a member of the National Academy of Sciences.
Another founding member of the American Ornithologists Union was Elliott Coues (1842-1899). Coues was an army physician, naturalist and field collector, as well as a member of the National Academy of Sciences. His various publications on field ornithology and identifying North American Birds were invaluable to ornithologists in those early days and remain valuable as reference works to this day.
Robert Ridgway (1850-1929) served as the first Curator of Birds at the USNM in 1881. He was an artist, a founding member of the American Ornithologist Union, member of the National Academy of Sciences and publisher of the first eight volumes of The Birds of North and Middle America – a reference work still in use today.
As a field naturalist and taxidermist for the USNM, William Palmer (1856-1921) collected specimens from Pribilof Islands, Funk Island, Cuba and Java, among other destinations. Assistant Curator of Birds between 1881 and 1889 Leonhard Stejneger (1851-1943) carried out pioneering ornithological fieldwork on the Commander Islands, Kamchatka, the Alps, Southwestern UK, Puerto Rico and Japan. Pierre L. Jouy (1856-1894) was a field collector who collected specimens primarily in Korea, Japan and China. He also made extensive contributions to the ethnological and zoological collections at Smithsonian.
Taking place from February 28 through to March 3, 2013, the San Diego Bird Festival features director of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, John Fitzpatrick and editor of Bird Watcher’s Digest, Bill Thompson, as keynote speakers. Trips include Coastal National Refuges; Coastal National Refuges; Gulls and Coastal Waterbirds; Birding Along the Border and Birding by Bike, among others. For more information on this exciting event visit sandiegoaudubon.org
Dates: 28 February – 2 March 20-13
Venue: Marina Village Conference Center
City: San Diego
Country: United States
Starting at 7:30 AM and lasting around 1-1.5 hours, Guided Beginner Bird Walks In Sapsucker Woods take place each Saturday from April through to September (weather permitting). Walks are led by Cornell Lab of Ornithology volunteer guides and leave from the Visitor Center at 159 Sapsucker Woods Road, Ithaca, NY
Date: 17 June 2012
Time: 07:30 AM
Venue: Visitor Center Sapsucker Woods
State: New York
The Wilson Journal of Ornithology recently published an article documenting the unusual nesting habits of the White-winged Diuca Finch. This was the first research ever published which detailed the diminutive bird’s breeding habits.
It’s been an incredible 41 years since the razorbill chick was born and ringed and now it seems that a British razorbill is completely dominating previous bird age records. The razorbill, known as razorbill M23170, has been crowned the oldest bird of its kind in Britain. It wasn’t a tough decision to make since the average lifespan of a razorbill is just 13 years.