Collection of Birds

African sunbirds in the collection at the BRTC.

African sunbirds in the collection at the BRTC.

The Collection of Birds at the BRTC contains over 24,000 specimens from 59 countries, primarily Texas (64%) and Mexico (24%). Holdings include representatives of 1,664 species, 787 genera and 164 families. The majority of specimens are prepared as skins; however, the collections include nearly 1,500 skeletons, 300 fluid preserved specimens, 400 egg sets and 3000 wings. The Collection also maintains a rapidly growing collection of tissues (nearly 6,500) and  blood samples associated with voucher specimens.  Specimen records  may be accessed through our search page here and are also available through the OrNIS site. Our loan policy is available here .

Paradise Flycatcher, Graaff-reinet, South Africa. Photo by Sergei Drovetski.

African Paradise Flycatcher, Graaff-reinet, South Africa. Photo by Sergei Drovetski.

Research projects by faculty, students and staff at Texas A&M University have provided most of the material in this collection; however, the collection has also grown through acquisition of the ornithology collections of Austin College, Southern Methodist University, Midwestern University and the University of North Texas. Recent expeditions to Armenia, Benin, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Italy and South Africa have increased the number of species and localities represented in the collection.

Ferruginous Pygmy Owl, Photo by Toby J. Hibbitts.

Ferruginous Pygmy Owl, Photo by Toby J. Hibbitts.

Collections are continuing to meet the needs of researchers in an increasing number of fields of study. They are used for answering important questions about birds and our shared environment, and provide a broad benefit to the management and conservation of birds.


The Collection of Birds is willing and able to care for all types of collections. If you collect specimens as part of your research and cannot or do not wish to adequately care for them in the long term, please consider the Biodiversity Research and Teaching Collections as a repository. We gratefully accept such specimens provided they are accompanied by proper documentation and permits (USDA, USFWS, CITES, STATE).

Recent Publications

Voelker, G., M. Tobler, H.L. Prestridge, E. Duijm, D. Groenenberg, M.R. Hutchinson, A.D. Martin, A. Nieman, C.S. Roselaar, and J.W. Huntley.  2016.  Three new species of Stiphrornis Forest Robins (Aves: Muscicapidae) from the Afro-tropics, with a molecular phylogenetic assessment of the genus.  Systematics and Biodiversity.

Voelker, G., G. Semenov, I.V. Fadeev, A. Blick, and S.V. Drovetski.  2015.  The biogeographic history of Phoenicurus redstarts reveals an allopatric mode of speciation and an out-of-Himalayas colonization pattern. Systematics and Biodiversity 13:296-305.

Drovetski, S.V., S.A. Aghayan, V. Mata, N.A. Mode, R.J. Lopes, J. Harvey*, G. Voelker.  2014.  Does the niche-breadth or trade-off hypothesis explain the abundance-occupancy relationship in avian haemosporidia?  Molecular Ecology 23:3322-3329.

Voelker, G., J.V. Penalba, J.W. Huntley* and R.C.K. Bowie.  2014.  Diversification in an Afro-Asian songbird clade reveals founder-event speciation via trans-oceanic dispersals and a southern to northern colonization pattern in Africa.  Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 73:97-105.

Voelker, G., R.C.K. Bowie, and J. Klicka.  2013.  Gene trees, species trees and Earth history combine to shed light on the evolution of migration in a model avian system.  Molecular Ecology 22:3333-3344.

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