The CUMV ornithology collection has about 57,000 specimens from around the world and includes representatives from nearly all families of birds. This wonderfully synoptic collection gained much of its material in the early 1900s and continues to inspire an interest and appreciation in birds, help understand how populations change through time, and allow for comparative studies. Specimens are available for use by students, the global research community, artists, educators, and more.
The ornithology collection has over 42,200 study skins, which make up the bulk of the collection. Study skins are filled with cotton and, when properly prepared and cared for, can last hundreds of years. In addition to global diversity, strengths of the ornithology collection include an impressive number of specimens from the 1950’s collected throughout the Midwest for studies of avian hybrid zones.
Cleared & Stained
Cleared and stained specimens are visually arresting. Muscle tissue becomes clear while bone stains red and cartilage stains blue. The result is similar to a color-coded ex-ray, which is helpful for understanding development transitions in morphology.
The CUMV has over 2,100 whole specimens preserved in alcohol. With the advent of high resolution CT scanning, these specimens are frequently used for non-destructive work examining internal anatomy across species.
Nests & Eggs
The CUMV collection has over 3700 eggs and 730 nests, many of which date from the late 1800s and early 1900s. These collections showcase the diversity in morphology, egg-color, and materials used in nest construction. Impressive nests of the CUMV include the long, woven baskets of oropendolas, and meticulously felted nests with false entrances of Cape Penduline Tits.
With 2,100 extended wings, this CUMV collection is in its early stages of development. Extended wings allow measurements of wing shapes and sizes, careful examination of flight feather replacement patterns, and access to the underside of wings, a part not visible on traditional specimens. Current research projects are saving both right and left wings for studies of molt asymmetry.
The CUMV tissue collection has over 5000 tissues, most of which are kept in ultra cold freezers at -80°C. The tissue collection is one of the most heavily used resources at the CUMV, providing insight in the evolutionary history across birds and the genes underlying phenotypes.