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Showing blog posts tagged with "Birds"

Curious Collections: Identifying a Rare Bird

Curious Collections: Identifying a Rare Bird

From the Collections posts

Ornithologists generally discover new species by collecting them in the wild. But early in the 20th century, Museum ornithologist James P. Chapin found one on a hat.

In 1913, Chapin, while serving as an assistant to German taxidermist and photographer Herbert Lang on what would become known as the Lang-Chapin Expedition to the Belgian Congo, came upon a native of the Ituri forest wearing a headdress with a distinctive feather. To the young naturalist, it suggested a pheasant or peacock, a strange possibility since these birds were native to Asia. Curious, he took it.

Tags: Birds

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Stray Western Hummingbird Visits the Museum’s Flowers

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Earlier this week, a crowd gathered around the shrubbery at the Museum’s 81st Street entrance.

They were looking for a Western hummingbird that found its way to the Museum grounds. Noah Burg of the Museum’s Education Department first spotted the stray on Wednesday, though it may have been there for several days.

Tags: Birds

Inside the Collections: Ornithology

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The American Museum of Natural History houses the largest collection of bird specimens in the world. Representing all continents and nearly 99 percent of avian species, these specimens help researchers study the evolutionary history of birds and patterns of geographic variation. In the video below, Department of Ornithology Collections Manager Paul Sweet offers a behind-the-scenes look at the collection and its role in scientific research and conservation.

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Sightings and Specimens: Campephilus principalis

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Six years ago this spring, an announcement sent waves of excitement among birders and wildlife enthusiasts: an Ivory-billed Woodpecker, Campephilus principalis, generally thought to be extinct, had been sighted in an Arkansas swamp by a team of investigators. A blurry video of the large bird in flight seemed to provide supporting evidence.

Still, proof of the bird’s existence was not airtight. Subsequent visits, as well as audio and video recordings in the area, yielded no definitive results. The video showed an image that might have been that of a similar species, the Pileated Woodpecker. Both species have black and white wings, but with different patterns that are visible when the wings are extended in flight. While researchers fanned out to look for evidence in Arkansas, at the Museum, ornithologists turned to the collections to examine the wings.

Tags: Birds

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