Colour in flight

South Australian Museum

The Ornithology Collection at the South Australia Museum contains materials derived from birds. The collection consists of approximately 62,000 specimens including dry bird skins (the biggest and most-used component), mounted animals, skeletons and whole animals preserved in concentrated alcohol. Nests and clutches of blown eggs are also included in the collection.

The Ornithology Collection is highly valued, comprising the biggest and best quality, global collection of the birds of South Australia. Most species of birds from other parts of Australia, and some Antarctic and international specimens are also represented.

The collection includes approximately 350 type specimens — this means they formed the original examples on which the descriptions of new bird species and subspecies were based. Such specimens have enormous historical and scientific value and are irreplaceable.

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The Museum’s Ornithology Section is involved in an exciting range of research in bird behaviour, distribution and taxonomy. Museum staff, Honorary Research Associates, volunteers and students use the highly valued Ornithology Collection, the Museum’s Australian Biological Tissue Collection and other museum collections across Australia and the world. Field-based observations and targeted collections are also a major part of the Museum’s research.

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