Australian Museum Ornithology Collection

Ornithology is the branch of zoology devoted to studying birds. Around 10,000 species of bird inhabit the world, ranging from tiny hummingbirds up to huge ostriches. The Australian Museum's Ornithology Collection contains a wide cross-section of these fascinating animals.

Bird Collection

Tiki Rand © Australian Museum

Living birds are warm-blooded vertebrate animals that have:

  • feathers
  • forelimbs modified as wings
  • scales on their legs and feet
  • a bill without teeth
  • lay hard-shelled eggs

About the Ornithology Collection

The Australian Museum has one of the largest ornithological collections in the Southern Hemisphere. It contains a large variety of bird skins, mounts, skeletons, eggs, nests, spirit specimens and tissue samples, representing approximately 95% of the world's bird families. You can get a feel for the kinds of specimens in the collection by checking out the Quick tour of the bird collection  and the Ornithology highlights gallery.

While the main emphasis is on species from New South Wales, almost all species that breed in Australia are well represented. The collection also contains around 3,500 non-Australian species, many of which hail from New Guinea, New Zealand, the south-west Pacific. The collection has great historical and scientific significance. It contains many rare, endangered and extinct species plus a significant number of type specimens, primarily from Australia and the Pacific Islands. As many specimens date from the mid 1860s, some even earlier, the collection affords us an insight into avian biology, morphology, anatomy and geographical distributions over time.


Dr Walter Boles , Senior Fellow
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