Collection of Birds

To give in support of the Texas Ornithological Research Fund, which was established to develop sufficient resources to allow us to continue to build the Collection of Birds at the Biodiversity Research and Teaching Collections to benefit the public, State and University aspects of our mission; Click here.

African sunbirds in the collection at the BRTC.

African sunbirds in the collection at the BRTC. Photo by Agrilife Communications.

The Collection of Birds at the BRTC contains over 27,000 specimens from 59 countries. Holdings include representatives of 1,702 species, 798 genera, and 165 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 (over 9,000), blood samples, ectoparasites and endoparasites associated with voucher specimens.  Specimen records  may be accessed through VertNet. The genetic material for our specimens is curated in parallel and stored in ultra-cold freezers and is also available to researchers by request. To search for specimens with associated tissues, visit the Global Genomic Biodiversity Network 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, and continue to provide, most of the material in this collection. However, the collection has grown through acquisition of the ornithology collections of Austin College, Southern Methodist University, Midwestern University and the University of North Texas. Historic and modern collections from the National Parks System (Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, Padre Island National Seashore) also contribute to the growth of the collection. Recent international expeditions to Armenia, Benin, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Italy and South Africa have increased the number of species and geographic diversity represented in the collection.

Elf Owl (Micrathene whitneyi), Brewster County, Texas. Photo by Heather L. Prestridge.

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

Clark, N.J., S.V. Drovetski, & G. Voelker. 2020. Robust geographical determinants of infection prevalence and a contrasting latitudinal diversity gradient for haemosporidian parasites in Western Palearctic birds.  Molecular Ecology 29:3131-3143.

Vaughn, J.C., G. Voelker, & J.J. Heatley. 2020. Glucose concentrations in closely related Titmice (Paridae: Baeolophus) species linked to regional habitat differences within a suspected avian hybrid zone.  The Open Ornithology Journal 13:10-23.

Wogan, G., G. Voelker, G. Oatley and R.C.K. Bowie. 2020. Biome stability predicts population structure of a southern African aridland bird species.  Ecology and Evolution 10:4066-4081.


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