Electronic inventory of European bird collections

Share this:

The Natural History Museum (BMNH or NHM)

What is in the bird collection?

Skins 750000
Egg sets 200000
Skeletons 15187
Mounts 6000
Spirits 17135
Nests 4000
Other Items n/a


Current staff
Full name Job title eBEAC member
Mark Adams Senior Curator Yes
Joanne Cooper Senior Curator Yes
Alison Harding Tring Librarian Yes
Robert Prys-Jones Collections Manager, Birds Yes
Douglas Russell Senior Curator Yes
Hein van Grouw Senior Curator Yes
Judy White Curator Yes
Important past bird staff
Full name Job title eBEAC member
P. R. Colston No
I. C. J. Galbraith No
D. Goodwin No
J. E. Gray No
G. R. Gray No
B. P. Hall No
C. J. O. Harrison No
N. Kinnear No
W. E. Leach No
P. R. Lowe No
W. R. Ogilvie-Grant No
P. L. Sclater No
R. Bowdler Sharpe No
G. Shaw No
D. Snow No

Special collections

Name Country (from)
India Mus. United Kingdom
Linnean Society of London United Kingdom
Voy. Alert United Kingdom
Voy. Beagle United Kingdom
Voy. Blossom United Kingdom
Voy. Challenger United Kingdom
Voy. Erebus & Terror United Kingdom
Voy. Herald United Kingdom
Voy. Rattlesnake United Kingdom
Voy. Sulphur United Kingdom
Zoological Society of London United Kingdom


Important collections from
  • A. L. Adams
  • J. Aitchison
  • B. Alexander
  • J. Anderson
  • F. B. Armstrong
  • D. A. Bannerman
  • G. L. Bates
  • R. C. Beavan
  • J. Biddulph
  • C. T. Bingham
  • W. Blanford
  • W. Blewitt
  • W. E. Brooks
  • G. Brown
  • F. Brüggemann
  • A. Buchanan
  • W. Buller
  • A. L. Butler
  • E. A. Butler
  • G. Caley
  • D. Carruthers
  • R. E. Cheesman
  • W. N. Chill
  • A. F. Christison
  • Cockburn
  • J. Cockerell
  • P. Conrad
  • J. Cook
  • W. D. Cowan
  • S. Coxen
  • C. Coxen
  • J. N. Cripps
  • P. Crowley
  • H. Cuming
  • J. W. N. Cumming
  • C. R. Darwin
  • C. Davison
  • W. R. Davison
  • de Riocour
  • J. Delacour
  • P. M. Diard
  • F. Dörries
  • H. Durnford
  • A. H. Everett
  • T. C. Eyton
  • H. W. Feilden
  • H. O. Forbes
  • A. D. Forbes-Watson
  • D. Forsyth
  • L. Fraser
  • E. Gerrard
  • J. Gilbert
  • F. D. Godman
  • H. H. Godwin-Austen
  • A. Goldie
  • W. Goodfellow
  • P. Gosse
  • J. Gould
  • C. H. B. Grant
  • J. H. Gurney
  • E. Hargitt
  • H. H. Harington
  • E. Hartert
  • G. Henderson
  • H. W. Henshaw
  • B. H. Hodgson
  • P. A. Holst
  • Thomas Horsfield
  • A. O. Hume
  • C. Ingram
  • F. J. Jackson
  • H. B. James
  • T. C. Jerdon
  • H. H. Johnston
  • E. G. Johnstone
  • F.C. R. Jourdain
  • H. J. Kelsall
  • J. Kirk
  • C. Boden Kloss
  • C. L. Landbeck
  • E. Layard
  • L. Layard
  • J. J. Lister
  • C. Livingstone
  • W. L. Lloyd
  • G. Loddiges
  • W. P. Lowe
  • F. Ludlow
  • H. Lynes
  • J. MacGillivray
  • L. Mandelli
  • C. H. T. Marshall
  • F. Shaw Mayer
  • J. McClelland
  • E. McConnell
  • R. Meinertzhagen
  • A. B. Meyer
  • G. Montagu
  • H. Moseley
  • J. Murray
  • E. Newton
  • E. W. Oates
  • A. Owston
  • Emin Pascha
  • Pemberton
  • H. Philby
  • S. Pinwill
  • J. Polatzek
  • H. Pryer
  • T. S. Raffles
  • Stamford Raffles
  • S. G. Reid
  • W. B. Richardson
  • C. B. Rickett
  • G. Rippon
  • H. C. Robinson
  • A. W. Roepstorff
  • W. F. H. Rosenberg
  • E. Rüppell
  • O. Salvin
  • H. Saunders
  • R. H. Schomburgk
  • W. E. D. Scott
  • J. Scully
  • H. Seebohm
  • W. Serle
  • R. Shaw
  • G. E. Shelley
  • G. Sherriff
  • H. H. Slater
  • H. Smith
  • A. Smith
  • William "Tangier" Smith
  • L. Sowerby
  • O. B. St John
  • W. Stalker
  • J. K. Stanford
  • S. Stevens
  • F. Stoliczka
  • R. Strachey
  • C. Sturt
  • F. W. Styan
  • C. Swinhoe
  • R. Swinhoe
  • W. H. Sykes
  • W. R. Thompson
  • C. B. Ticehurst
  • S. Tickell
  • J. D. D. La Touche
  • H. B. Tristram
  • Tweeddale
  • N. Vigors
  • J. Vincent
  • A. R. Wallace
  • H. Walton
  • A. E. Ward
  • R. G. Wardlaw-Ramsay
  • G. R. Waterhouse
  • J. Waterstradt
  • E. Weiske
  • H. Whistler
  • J. I. S. Whitaker
  • J. Whitehead
  • C. H. T. Whitehead
  • A. Whyte
  • E. Wilson
  • A. W. S. Wingate
  • H. F. Witherby
  • A. F. R. Wollaston
  • C. M. Woodford
  • C. K. Worthen
  • J. W. Yerbury

The Natural History Museum

Bird Group, Akeman Street, Tring, Herts., HP23 6AP, United Kingdom

+44 (0)207 942 5000



The outstanding ornithological collection of the Natural History Museum represents about 95 per cent of known bird species. There are up to 700,000 skins, over 15,000 skeletons, over 17,000 specimens in spirit, about 4,000 nests and some 200,000 sets of eggs (representing 52% of recognised species). Specimens range in age from before the founding of the British Museum in 1753 to the present day.

Brief history

Sir Hans Sloane's (1660 –1753) Museum and Library were sold, at his death, to the British Government for £20,000 and his collection formed the basis of both the British Museum and later the Natural History Museum (NHM). In the mid-18th century the number of birds and their parts, eggs and nests, was recorded as only 1172 but in 1824, the famous British Zoologist, John Edward Gray (1800-1875) became an Assistant, and in 1840 Keeper of the Zoological Department, a post which he held for the next 34 years. With the completion of the new British Museum building in 1845 at Bloomsbury, immense progress in the development of the collections was possible. When the renowned British ornithologist, Dr. Richard Bowdler Sharpe (1847-1909) took charge of the bird collections in 1872, the collection already comprised ca. 35,000 specimens. During the next 40 years the collections grew tenfold and by the early 1900s the bird collection was undoubtedly amongst the most important in the world and held at least 400,000 specimens. In the early 1970s, with space at the main NHM site in South Kensington at a premium, the bird collections and staff were moved permanently to the Natural History Museum at Tring in Hertfordshire. The NHM bird collections and library thrived in their new home and continue to grow steadily. The NHM bird collections are an invaluable research resource for scientists internationally. They are not generally open to the public, but people involved in original research or in the production of scientific or reference artwork intended for publication (either amateur or professional) may apply to visit by prior appointment.


Please email us with any updates to this information and let us know if you’d like to supply a picture for your organisation.