The Bird Collection
The museum’s bird collection includes more than 113,000 specimens representing about 4,000 species from around the world, with especially strong collections of Philippine and Central and South American birds.
There are several different types of specimens: study skins, skeletons, spread wings and eggs. We also maintain a small tissue collection available for studying DNA containing samples from eastern North American taxa. About 140 taxa are in the type collection. Extinct species are also represented.
Matthew Halley, Ph.D.
Assistant Curator of Birds
Matt joined the museum in 2021 and was promoted to Assistant Curator of Birds in October 2022. He received his doctorate in environmental science from Drexel University and the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, where he primarily studied the systematics of the nightingale-thrushes (genus Catharus) and the evolution of seasonal migration. His field research spans a wide range of countries including Panama, Venezuela, Nicaragua, India, Israel, Canada, and the United States.
Collections Manager, Birds
Ashley joined the museum the Collections Manager of Birds in September 2023. She recently graduated with a Master of Arts degree in Heritage and Museum Sciences from Texas Tech University. Her thesis research focused on the comparison between museum professionals’ expectations and visitors’ perceptions in public exhibit spaces that utilize taxidermy in natural history museums within the United States. Ashley possesses a background in hands-on collections work, concentrated in vertebrate zoology.
Stories from the Bird Department
- New bird species discovered through scientific collectionsDr. Matthew Halley, Assistant Curator of Birds, is the lead author of a recently-published paper that splits the Slaty-backed Nightingale-Thrush (Catharus fuscater) into seven different species and four subspecies — including a newly-described species from eastern Panamá: the Darién Nightingale-thrush.
- SoundscapesSound is a distinct part of an ecosystem. The soundscapes in the galleries are designedRead More Soundscapes
- MOTUS detects Lesser YellowlegsA bird species that migrates through our area — a Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes) —Read More MOTUS detects Lesser Yellowlegs
- Research HeadquartersHow we know what we know: In the Research Headquarters, sponsored by DuPont, explore storiesRead More Research Headquarters
- Up on the roof: How flying a kite is part of bird researchThough researchers have studied of bird migration in general, the ability to track the journeyRead More Up on the roof: How flying a kite is part of bird research