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The ornithological collections

The ornithological collections of the Swedish Museum of Natural History consist of approximately 110,000 study skins, 13,000 skeletons, 1500 alchoholic specimens, 28,000 egg clutches, and 2400 blood or tissue samples. The collections has a World-wide geographic coverage with ca 65% of the species of the World represented in the skin collection. Besides the western Palearctic, SouthAmericaandSoutheast Asiaare especially well covered regions.

Study skins

The skin collection of the SwedishMuseum of Natural History is one of the World's largest. In addition to active collecting the museum also has received major donations over the years. The perhaps most important being that from von Zedlitz.
Skeletons -- The skeleton was saved in only rare cases during the expeditions in the early history of the museum. Consequently, the skeletal collection is very incomplete. Of totally 132 subfamilies of non-passerines, we lack skeletal material of 45. The corresponding figure for passerine birds is even worse. However, since the 1970's the museum get several species that under the law cannot be kept by private people. For these species, mainly raptors and owls, we now have rather good series of skeletons covering their whole Swedish distribution area, allowing in-depth studies of geographic variation.

Alcoholic specimens

Although the number of alcoholic preps is low, many of the specimens were collected during early expeditions to remote areas of the World and are thus of significant interest.


The majority of the egg collection derive from western Palearctic species. A major donation from Mr Tor Jern in 1994 increased the collection by 50% to ca 28.000 clutches. During the last decades the major use of the egg collection has been in the mapping and surveillance of contaminants.

Type collection

A commented list of the types of birds present at the Swedish Museum of Natural History in the mid-1920s was published by Nils Gyldenstolpe in 1926.
Click here for the full Type collection (currently under preparation)'

For more information about the bird collection, please contact:

Ulf Johansson, Curator birds