Role of Modern Collections

Bird collections evolve to reflect current ornithological research. Modern collections are very different than early ones. It is now recognized that much more data than just locality, date, sex and age can be collected from a specimen. We take pains to ensure more extensive and more detailed data accompanies each specimen. This includes data that is written on the tags, such as eye, bill, and leg color (which fade over time) and reproductive data, but also we sample muscle and other tissue samples; internal and external parasites; blood; stomachs and their contents; and more. This greatly expands the types of studies that can be performed using these collections. These samples, carefully archived, stored, and databased, ensure accessibility for Field Museum scientists and collaborators to both host and parasite data into the future.

We recently published a paper describing why modern collections are important:
Bates, John M., R. C. K. Bowie, D. E. Willard, G. Voelker, and C. Kahindo (2004). A need for continued collecting of avian voucher specimens in Africa, or: Why blood is not enough. Ostrich 75:187-191.

Creating a collection. Photo © Josh Engel / The Field Museum.