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  • Florida Museum of Natural History

    Melanie Colón

    The FLMNH Recent bird skeleton collection of 24,500 specimens, representing about 3,000 species, is approximately fifth largest in the world in number of specimens and species. In 1992, the FLMNH received the Recent bird skeleton collection assembled by Prof. Pierce Brodkorb of the University of Florida's Department of Zoology. With the assistance of an NSF collection improvement grant, this skeleton collection was computer-cataloged and integrated into the FLMNH bird collection (already computerized in 1992-1994). The skeleton collection has grown by 140% in the last five years. It contains specimens from 47 U.S. states and 103 countries. The top ten states are: FL with 11,169 specimens; CA with 638; ME 227; MA 218; GA 213; AK 201; NY 154; TX 142; AZ 140; VA 124. The top ten countries are: US 13,282; Mexico 745; Netherlands 397; Costa Rica 320; Kenya 312; Panama 252; Zimbabwe 217; Suriname 213; Canada 198; Australia 124. Taxonomically the collection ranges across the class Aves, representing 23 orders, 128 families, and 950 genera.

    The bird skin collection contains approximately 20,500 specimens representing at least 2,300 species. These are mostly study skins, but in recent years we have prepared a large proportion of new specimens as flat skins or spread wings with associated skeletons. In 1992, the division also received the collection of approximately 3,000 skins assembled by Prof. Brodkorb. The skin collection has grown by 23% in the last five years. It is 99% computerized and contains specimens from 45 U.S. states and 77 countries. The top ten states are: FL with 7,451 specimens; GA with 265; RI 244; CT 197; CA 173; MA 168; SC 134; ME 86; NC 86; AK 84. The top ten countries are: US 9,696; Mexico 1,513; Honduras 730; Kenya 276; Colombia 204; Cuba 153; Philippines 117; Canada 104; Suriname 101; Haiti 99. Also wide-ranging taxonomically, it represents 27 orders, 129 families, and 850 genera. Rarities include skins of extinct Ivory-billed Woodpeckers, Dusky Seaside Sparrows, Passenger Pigeons, and Carolina Parakeets.

    The egg collection, consisting of 10,400 sets representing 733 species, is 11th largest in North America in number of sets and 15th largest in number of species. It represents approximately 90% of the species and subspecies of North American birds. The egg collection has grown by 1% in the last five years. It is cataloged in a card file that includes original collectors' data slips or page references to the collector's field notes. Especially well represented are sets from New England and Florida. The collection is rich in sets of raptor eggs, including Bald Eagles, Ospreys, Broad-winged Hawks, Red-shouldered Hawks, Crested Caracaras, and American Kestrels, and the Florida races of Seaside Sparrows and Clapper Rails. Rarities include sets of Passenger Pigeon, Carolina Parakeet, and Bachman's Warbler eggs.

    The bird sound collection, in the FLMNH Bioacoustic Archives, with 20,500 cataloged recordings representing about 3,000 species, is perhaps third or fourth largest in the world in number of species. In the western hemisphere it is the second largest in number of species and third largest in number of recordings. We are now processing one of our largest accessions ever, the collection of Ben B. Coffey, Jr., with thousands of high-quality recordings from the southeastern USA and the Neotropics. The sound collection has grown by 20% in the last five years, not counting the Coffey accession. It is cataloged entirely on computer. Geographical strengths include North America, especially Florida, and the Neotropics, with smaller but notable numbers of recordings from Africa, Australia, and Southeast Asia. Some taxonomic groups especially well represented are tinamous, trogons, woodpeckers, antbirds, New World flycatchers, wrens, New World wood warblers, and corvids.

    For further information, or to arrange for examination of particular specimens, contact the Collection Manager.

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