The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences' ornithology collection is one of the three largest of its kind in the southeastern United States and is the only collection of significant size in North Carolina. Its 20,000 specimens represent 26 of 27 orders, 135 families, 598 genera, and 1,500 to 2,000 taxa.

The Museum possesses a notable collection of seabirds containing over 2,000 skins, hundreds of skeletons, and an extensive number of fluid-preserved birds, some of which can be found only in this collection. It is one of the few museums to house a spread wing collection, which contains more than 1,500 specimens.

The Museum also has a significant Philippine ornithology collection, several thousand egg sets, and about 1,000 voice recordings of North Carolina birds. The Museum exhibits two of the collection's rarest specimens: the Carolina parakeet and the passenger pigeon.

The collection began with Museum founders H.H. Brimley and C.S. Brimley in the early 1900s. However, most of the specimens were acquired after 1975 under the leadership of former Curator of Birds David Lee. In addition, the Museum of Natural Sciences serves as the repository for deceased specimens of rare and endangered birds from several institutions, including the North Carolina, Baltimore and Philadelphia zoos and the Carolina Raptor Center. Through cooperative agreements with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, the Museum receives many valuable salvage specimens from bird rehabilitators across North Carolina.

NC Hummers - Vagrant hummingbird sightings project and report form, coordinated by John Gerwin and Susan Campbell.

Online Collections

Search the Ornithology Collections Database



Fields of Research