Birds

View specimens ranging from a tiny hummingbird to a giant ostrich and meet the extinct Mauritius dodo.

Victorian case in the bird gallery.

Our beautiful and varied collection of preserved specimens, which began in the eighteenth century, ranges from exotic birds threatened with extinction to more common blackbirds and swans. Instead of actively collecting, the Museum now focuses its work on a range of conservation projects.

The extinct Mauritius dodo.

Our 2 Mauritius dodos are the most iconic specimens in the Birds gallery. The dodo is probably the world’s most famous extinct bird and it is a potent symbol of human's impact on the natural world. For 200 years it was thought there were 2 species – the Mauritius dodo and the white dodo of Réunion Island. But the white dodo was really an ibis.

A male peackock

In the gallery you can admire the beautiful plumage of birds like the bower-bird and lyrebird. Their gorgeous feathers are essential to the success of their species. The size and vivid colours of the peacock's feathers helps it attract a mate and perpetuate its genes through offspring.

Audubon's ***

Admire the large art prints on the gallery walls, like this Roseate Spoonbill. It is one of a selection of famous hand-engraved illustrations on display from the most expensive book in the world, John James Audubon’s The Birds of America.

The kakapo, largest and among the most rare of all parrots.

The kakapo parrot, largest and among the most rare of all parrots, is flightless and nocturnal. Native to New Zealand, where it lives in the mossy forests, it was nearly wiped out by predators brought in by Europeans and is now being actively conserved.

Hummingbird cabinet

This display case is a typical display of exotic birds, popular with Victorian curiosity collectors. It is filled with 100s of hummingbirds, some of the world's smallest and most vividly-coloured birds. Hummingbirds are named for the sound of their rapidly beating wings as they hover over flowers to feed on nectar.

The Archaeopteryx fossil.

With its feathers, teeth and long, bony tail, the Archaeopteryx helped prove that modern birds evolved from dinosaurs. It was the first example discovered showing evolution 'in action', providing support for Darwin's theory of evolution. You can see a cast of this rare fossil, which was unearthed in Germany in 1861, in our collection.

Our display shows the variety of sizes of bird eggs

See the extraordinary variety in size of bird eggs. From the giant extinct elephant bird of Madagascar, whose egg is bigger than a football, to the tiny hummingbird, whose egg is about the size of a fingernail.

Two baya weavers and their nest.

Bird nests come in all shapes and sizes as our display shows, but they all have to provide a safe place for eggs to hatch. That means keeping out predators, such as snakes, as this baya weaver’s nest is designed to do.