Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

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Birds Collection Search

The Division of Birds, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, houses and maintains the third largest bird collection in the world with over 625,000 specimens. Our National Collection has representatives of about 80% of the approximately 9600 known species in the world's avifauna. The collection is comprised of specimens primarily prepared as study skins, skeletons, fluid preserved, eggs, nests, and mounted skins. We also hold nearly 4000 primary type specimens. Our tissue sample holdings are not searchable in this first phase of public web access to the Birds database.

Search the Bird Collections

Keyword searches on summary fields can be run from the Keywords Search tab. Searches can be run against specific fields from the Search by Field tab. If you don't know what to search for, try one of the three sample searches in the Quick Browse list below.

Please note that only about 65% of our holdings currently have complete or partial records in the public specimen database. Missing from the database are most of Columbiformes and several families of Passeriformes for which data have not yet been captured, as well as most collections acquired in recent years (>1990). The number of images associated with our specimen records is small but growing. If you need to know our holdings to plan your research, please contact us at contactsmithbirds@si.edu

Help

See the Help tab to learn more about searching and then exploring your returned results (sorting, exporting, etc.).

Quick Browse Searches

Enter your keywords separated by spaces and click Search. Records that match your search terms will be returned.

Note that searching for common (vernacular) names may not yield the expected results. Associating common names with specimen records is a work in progress.

Keyword search example: icterus costa rica type

Use the By Field search to find specimen data that match values in specific database fields. Enter a value or choose one from the dropdown lists.

The results of your searches can be displayed in Grid (a sortable, customizable table) or Gallery View (best for reviewing images). Use the Switch button Change View to cycle between these views.

In Grid View:

In Gallery View:

See Exporting Results for information on downloading results to, for example, Excel or Google Earth.

Open the full collection record by clicking the expansion button (Expansion button) in Grid View, or anywhere within the image frame in Gallery View. Inverse expansion buttons (Collapse button) indicate records with multimedia (typically, images).

Sort results in Grid View by clicking the column header (or by choosing Sort from the column's dropdown menu).

Export all or selected results by clicking the Export Results as CSV button in the bottom toolbar in Grid, or Gallery View.

You can also export all or selected results to a KML file for viewing with Google Earth or other KML viewers, by clicking the Export as KML button. This button is grayed when all or selected results lack latitude/longitude values.

To create a link to specific records at NMNH provide the appropriate unit and querystring to:

http://collections.mnh.si.edu/search/UNIT/?QUERYSTRING

where UNIT is:

and QUERYSTRING is (use a plus-sign to separate words):

Here are a few search tips:

Please use the Feedback page to report back any problems you find with the data, or with using these search pages.