Mr Douglas Russell

Curator Douglas G. D. Russell with a collection of eggs
  • Senior Curator, Birds
  • Life Sciences department
  • Vertebrates Division
Natural History Museum at Tring
Akeman Street
HP23 6AP


Employment history

2002 - present     Natural History Museum - Curator, Bird Group, Dept of Zoology
2002                      Natural History Museum - Project Officer, Citizen's Tree of Life, Dept of
                               Information & Library Systems
1999 - 2001         Wood End Museum, Scarborough Borough Council - Project Co-ordinator
                               (Natural History)
1998 - 1999         Natural History Museum - Research Assistant, Mammal Section, Zoology
1996 - 1997         Royal Museum (National Museums of Scotland) Dept of Geology & Zoology
                               Professional Assistant on Birds
1997                      Deer  Commission for Scotland - Scientific Officer
1995 - 1996         Royal Museum (National Museums of Scotland) Dept of Geology & Zoology


B. Sc. (Hons)      Biological Sciences - Edinburgh Napier University  

Professional Roles


2008 To Whom Does The Egg Shell Signal? Contrast and Perception of Avian Eggs. THE LEVERHULME TRUST Co-applicant (with Dr. P. Cassey University of Birmingham): £85,573 

External collaborations

Research with Dr. Phill Cassey,  at the Centre for Ornithology, University of Birmingham on the Evolution of Eggshell Appearance. 

Specifically, the use of data-poor egg collections to research how and why eggshells have evolved such a rich diversity of colour, appearance, and bio-mineral architecture.

Centre for Ornithology, University of Birmingham 

External committees

2001-2003         Member of Biology Curators Group Committee
2003 - 2007       Member of NatSCA Committee.
2005 - present  Meeting Secretary for Bird Curators Britain and Ireland (BCBI)


Fellow of the Linnean Society of London (FLS)
Founding Member of the Natural Science Collections Association (NatSCA)



I am responsible for the curation of the national avian egg and nest collections as part of the team of bird group curators in the Department of Zoology at the Natural History Museum (NHM). 

In the egg and nest collection I am responsible for:

  • All aspects of curatorial care
  • Visitors
  • Enquiries
  • Documentation
  • Research on the collections to enhance their data.
Royal Tern egg

Royal Tern (Sterna maxima) egg
Mauritania, 1959
Naurois Collection

NHM Egg Collection 

The NHM egg collection is one of the largest resources of its kind in the world.  Containing over 300,000 clutches the collection is regularly used by scientific researchers from across the globe.  The collection is used to study: 

  • Species identification
  • Allometry (relationship between size and shape)
  • Phylogenetics
  • Eggshell thinning & environmental change
  • Crypsis, mimicry & recognition
  • Heritability
  • Thermoregulation
  • Sexual selection, female health & brood parasitism 
Fuscous Honeyeater nest

Fuscous Honeyeater (Meliphaga fusca) nest
Moreton Island, Australia
HMS Rattlesnake

The NHM Nest Collection 

The NHM Nest Collection contains over 4000 examples.  This unique collection is an intimate record of behaviour and an important research resource on avian architecture.   The collection is currently undergoing extensive curation and re-arrangement.   


The egg and nest collection benefits from the assistance of several long-term and short-term volunteers to whom I am indebted.   



  • History, science and utility of avian egg & nest collections:

I have spent the last four years researching the three 'Winter Journey' Emperor Penguin Aptenodytes forsteri G. R. Gray, 1844 eggs collected by Apsley Cherry-Garrard, Edward A. Wilson and Henry R. Bowers on the British Antarctic 'Terra Nova' Expedition, 1910.

I am also currently involved in research on George Murray Levick's work on the Adélie Penguin Pygoscelis adeliae (Hombron & Jacquinot, 1841) colony at Cape Adare on the British Antarctic 'Terra Nova' Expedition, 1910.

  •  Preservation and conservation of egg collections:

I am keen to facilitate research on historical egg collections and maximising their research potential.  


  • Maurer, G., Russell, D. G. D., Woog, F. and  P. Cassey ( 2010 ) The eggs of the extinct Egyptian population of White-tailed Eagle Haliaeetus albicilla Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club 130(3) : 208-214 .
  • Maurer, G., Russell, D.G.D. and P. Cassey ( 2010 ) Interpreting the lists and equations of egg dimensions in Schönwetter’s ‘Handbuch der Oologie’ The Auk 127(4) : (IN PRESS) .
  • Russell, D.G.D., Hansell, M, Reilly, M. ( 2010 ) Constructive Behaviour in Conference Proceedings ‘5th International Meeting of European Bird Curators', "Collections in Context". August 29th-31st 2007, Vienna, Austria. Annalen des Naturhistorischen Museums Wien. .
  • Russell, D.G.D., White, J., Maurer, G. and P. Cassey ( 2010 ) Data-poor egg collections: cracking an important resource. In: Louette, M., Cael, G. and Tavernier, W. (Eds). 2010. Proceedings of the Sixth European Bird Curators Meeting. Journal of Afrotropical Zoology Special Issue IN PRESS : .
  • Duckworth, J. W., Inskipp, T. P,. Pasquet, E., Rasmussen, P. C., Rice, N. H., Robson C. R,. Russell, D.G.D. ( 2009 ) A re-evaluation of the status of Tawny Eagle Aquila rapax in South-east Asia Forktail .
  • Duckworth, J. W., Round, P. D., Russell, D.G.D, Kasorndorkbua, C, Robson, C. R. ( 2009 ) Bonelli’s Eagle Hieraaetus fasciatus in South-east Asia. Monograph on Bonelli’s Eagle (Hieraaetus fasciatus). Spanish Ornithological Society .
  • Cornish, L., Ball, A. & Russell D.G.D.  (Eds) Nimmrichter J, Kautek W & Schreiner M. ( 2007 ) Laser cleaning of avian eggshell., In: Lasers in the conservation of artworks . Springer-Verlag : Berlin , 169-176 .
  • Russel, D.G.D. ( 2007 ) Book Review -Edward Gerrard & Sons: A Taxidermy Memoir, by P.A. Morris. Natsca News. 6 : 53 .
  • Russell, D.G.D. ( 2007 ) Twin Chicks New Scientist 195 (2617) : 77 .
  • Russell, D.G.D. ( 2007 ) Hatching a Plan: Developing Modern Standards in Egg Collections. Natsca News 6 : 27 .
  • Russell, D.G.D. & Thomson, K. S. ( 2007 ) On the trail of the Beagle budgie. Wingspan 17 : 24-25 .
  • Walters, M., Russell, D. G. D., Steinheimer, F. D. & Quaisser, C. ( 2007 ) The eggs of the Canarian (or Meade-Waldo’s) Black Oystercatcher Haematopus meadewaldoi. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club 127 : 226-227 .
  • Russell, D.G.D. ( 2005 ) Hatching a Plan: Developing modern standards in egg collections [abstract] NatSCA News 6 : 27 .