Keepers’ Corner – Museum bird collection

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With the @RSPB’s #BigGardenBirdWatch approaching this weekend I thought I’d use this week’s #KeepersCorner to shine a light on the Museum’s bird collection.

The museum houses around 600 taxidermy specimens with a selection on show in the Discover Bucks Wildlife Gallery. It is important to note that modern museums do not kill birds for their collections – with the introduction of the Wildlife and Countryside Act in 1974 this would be illegal for most species. Instead we get donations from members of the public who find birds that have died from natural or accidental causes such as flying into windows or those caught by cats. It is sometimes said that taxidermy collections are old fashioned but I feel that they still have something to offer. Spotting birds through your window or watching David Attenborough on TV are excellent ways of studying birds, however, taxidermy collections can further hone your identification skills by revealing overlooked details and allowing the opportunity to compare and contrast similar species in close-up. Anything that helps improve people’s identification skills and appreciation of nature is good in my book.
Eyes peeled for this month’s Big Garden Birdwatch 26 – 28 January 2024.
Mike, Keeper of Natural History & Geology

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