The Bird Collection is a scientific collection of birds, or bird parts, and comprises over a third of the world's approximately 10,780 species (ref. IOC World Bird List version 4.1). A major part of the collection consists of bird skins mounted in natural poses (mounts) or prepared as so-called study skins. It is no longer customary to sample whole animals for such collections in Norway. Consequently, most of our scientific objects are 100–200 years old and current acquisition to this part of the collection is limited.
Another important part of the collection consists of blood, tissue and DNA samples. These thereby also belong to the Natural History Museum DNA Bank. This is the most active part of the Bird Collection and has grown steadily since its establishment in the 1990's. The majority of the objects are blood samples collected from wild-caught birds that were released after having contributed to the cause of science. DNA can be extracted from blood and tissue samples and thereby used in genetic studies.
A unique part of the Bird Collection are sperm cell samples from over 750 species of birds, mainly song birds (order Passerifomers). The collection has been built by the Sex and Evolution Research Group over the course of the last 15–20 years and is globally unique.
The egg collection comprises over 7,000 sets (clutches or single eggs) and nearly all Norwegian breeding species are represented. Other smaller parts of the collection consists of skeletons and birds preserved in ethanol.
The Bird Collection is mostly used for scientific purposes and is available for researchers worldwide. Some objects are also on display in the public exhibitions.
Highlights from the collection
Great auk Pinguinus impennis (extinct)
Carl Lumholtz' collections from Australia (1880–84) and Borneo (1913–16)
Knut Dahl's collections from South-Africa (1893–94) and Australia (1894–96)
Objects from Fridtjof Nansen (1882–1896), Otto Sverdrup (1900–1902) and Roald Amundsen (1904–1925)
Objects from the Tristan da Cunha expedition (1937–38)
Objects from the Southern Ocean and Antarctica