Mr Hein Van Grouw

Mr Hendrik Van Grouw

Curator, Birds

Department: Life Sciences
Division: LS Vertebrates Division
Contact: email


Colour aberrations, domestication and genetics in birds.


Since June 2009 I’m one of the five NHM’s Bird Curators based at Tring. Before that I worked for nearly 12 years in the bird collections, and later also the mammal collections of Naturalis, the Dutch Natural History Museum, nowadays called Naturalis Dutch Centre for Biodiversity. Some of the larger projects I was involved in were: 1998 - 1999: Supervised move of entire bird collections to new premises. Personally responsible for the packaging, removal and systematic installation of the entire collection of bird skins and mounted specimens to new premises. Managed a team of seven to assist me in the physical work. (2 years). 2005 - 2006: Project manager: digital registration of Passeriformes collection. Supervised a team of project workers to develop and populate a database, including digital images, of entire Passeriformes skin collection, (approx. 75,000 specimens). Wrote a collections manual to establish a protocol for future projects. (2 years). 2005 -2009: Whale strandings coordinator. Managed team responsible for the retrieval, data collection and preparation of all Cetacean specimens along the Dutch coast. Principal liaison contact with media regarding Cetacean strandings. Responsible for the availability of all strandings data online; see I am practicing taxidermy since 1981 and experienced in the preparation of study skins, mounted specimen, skeleton preparation and specimen repair, both birds and mammals. My ongoing research is into the occurrence of colour aberration in wild birds. Since 1998 I am undertaking a systematic search of scientific bird collections to identify and database all aberrant specimens with identifying the range of aberrations occurring in the various taxa as a goal. Within that research I am also interested in examples of (extinct) populations in which certain heritable colour aberrations are settled in well, e.g. the 'White-speckled Ravens' from the Faroe Islands. (See also Publications). My interest in colour aberrations I have in common with Lord Lionel Walter, Second Baron Rothschild (1868-1937). He is famous for his passionate interest in ornithology and for having assembled a scientific collection of about 300,000 bird skins and mounts. Less well known was his interest in bird hybrids and colour aberrations for all of which he collected an impressive number of examples. However, how many is unknown as Rothschild’s collection was not catalogued. Also, his collection is divided between the American Museum of Natural History in New York and the Natural History Museum. Currently I am doing an inventory to estimate the number of aberrant birds present in his collection and to look into their history.



Ingenieur (= BSc), Rijkshogeschool IJsselland, Deventer, 1989 - 1995

Employment history


Senior Collection Manager (Curator): Birds and Mammals, National Museum of Natural History Naturalis, Leiden, Zoology, The Netherlands, 2008 - 2009

Collection Manager (Curator): Birds and Mammals, National Museum of Natural History Naturalis, Leiden, Zoology, The Netherlands, 2005 - 2008

Collections technician/taxidermist: Birds, National Museum of Natural History Naturalis, Leiden, Zoology, The Netherlands, 2000 - 2005

Collections technician/taxidermist: Birds, Reptiles & Amphibians, National Museum of Natural History Naturalis, Leiden, Zoology, The Netherlands, 1997 - 2000


Forcina G, Guerrini M, van Grouw H, Gupta BK, Panayides P, Hadjigerou P, Al-Sheikhly OF, Awan MN, Khan AA, Zeder MA, Barbanera F (2015) Impacts of biological globalization in the Mediterranean: Unveiling the deep history of human-mediated gamebird dispersal. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112 (11): 3296 - 3301. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1500677112

Van Grouw H (2015) Off colour (The Last Word).. New Scientist, 225 (3009)

Barbanera F, Forcina G, Cappello A, Guerrini M, van Grouw H, Aebischer NJ (2015) Introductions over introductions: the genomic adulteration of an early genetically valuable alien species in the United Kingdom. Biological Invasions, 17 (1): 409 - 422. doi: 10.1007/s10530-014-0739-5

Heupink TH, van Grouw H, Lambert DM (2014) The mysterious Spotted Green Pigeon and its relation to the Dodo and its kindred. BMC Evolutionary Biology, 14 (1): 136 - 136. doi: 10.1186/1471-2148-14-136

Hume JP, Van Grouw H (2014) Colour aberrations in extinct and endangered birds.. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists’ Club, 134 (3): 168 - 193.

Van Grouw H (2014) The Spotted green pigeon Caloenas maculata: as dead as a Dodo, but what else do we know about it?. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists’ Club, 134 (4): 291 - 301.

Van Grouw H (2014) Some black-and-white facts about the Faeroese whitespeckled Common Raven Corvus corax varius.. Bulletin of the British Ornithologist´s Club, 134 (1): 4 - 13.

Van Grouw H (2013) What colour is that bird? The causes and recognition of common colour aberrations in birds. British Birds, 106 (1): 17 - 29.


Van Grouw H (2012) Plumage aberrations in Australian birds: A comment on Guay et al. (2012) and Frith & Murphy (2012). Australian Field Ornithology, 29 (4): 210 - 214.

Van Grouw H (2012) Geen kraai zo bont of er zit wel een vlekje aan; het fenomeen ‘witte veren’ in kraaiachtigen. Het Vogeljaar, 60 (1): 3 - 20.

Van Grouw H, Nolazco S (2012) The nature of melanism and some other colour aberrations in the Vermilion flycatcher (Pyrocephalus rubinus obscurus). Boletin Informativo UNOP, 7 : 26 - 37.

Van Grouw H, Russell S, Merne OJ (2011) A few notes on colour aberrations in Common Guillemot Uria aalge and Northern Gannet Morus bassanus. Seabird, 24 : 66 - 74.

Van Grouw H (2010) How to recognise colour aberrations in birds (in museum collections). Journal of Afrotropical Zoology, : 53 - 59.

van GROUW H, de Jong J. , (2009) Genetica bij duiven: Modern Mendelisme en meer voor de duivenliefhebber. Surhuisterveen. Nederlandse Bond van Sierduivenliefhebbersverenigingen NBS. ISBN 978-90-813589-1-0.

Van Grouw H (2006) Not every white bird is an albino: sense and nonsense about colour aberrations in birds.. Dutch Birding, 28 (2): 79 - 89.