Bird skeleton collections
Our bird skeleton collection, also called the avian osteology collection, is the largest of its kind in the UK. It contains around 16,600 specimens, including complete and partial skeletons and skulls.
The bird skeleton collection includes around 16,000 specimens, making it both the largest such collection in the UK, and one of the twenty largest such collections in the world.
It contains material from about 65 per cent of the world's bird genera and 33 per cent of all bird species.
The skeleton collection includes some of the Museum's oldest and most famous specimens, including a number of domestic birds from the collections of Charles Darwin.
Two of our hornbill skulls were originally part of the collections of Sir Hans Sloane (1660-1753), which formed the basis of the British Museum in 1753.
In addition to our collection of modern birds, we also hold some Holocene subfossil material - including specimens from the Chatham Islands in New Zealand, some Atlantic islands and Puerto Rico - along with material of key taxa such as the dodo (Raphus cucullatus).
The Museum's main palaeontological bird collections, including moa and elephant birds, are held in the Department of Earth Sciences.
Looking for a specimen?
The bird skeleton collections are being digitised
Search or browse bird type specimens and access catalogue data on holotypes, syntypes, lectotypes and neotypes.
Explore the electronic Bulletin board for European avian curators, an online community of European bird curators and associates.
Find what you're looking for with our comprehensive lists of ornithological references, and choose from a range of related websites.