Description of the Bird Collection at
Texas Tech University

The Bird Collection at the NSRL consists of skins, skeletal material, alcohol-preserved bodies, nests, eggs, and taxidermy mounts.  There is also a growing number of frozen tissue samples (heart, liver, brain, and pectoralis muscle) available through the Genetic Resources Collection.  

The Bird Collection includes members from every extant avian Order but focuses primarily on the birds of Texas.  More bird species have been recorded in Texas than in any other U.S. state, and the holdings of the Bird Collection reflect this diversity well.  We also have specimens from most other U.S. states and from 13 other countries where research by other members of the NSRL has been conducted.  

Specimens are constantly being added to the Collection.  Most new additions are either from the South Plains Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Lubbock (orphaned or injured birds that did not survive) or salvaged (road kills, window kills, cat kills) by personnel affiliated with Texas Tech University who have the appropriate federal and state permits.  We also have acquired specimens recently by trade with other institutions and from materials confiscated from prosecuted cases involving poaching or illegal trade of animal parts.  

Important holdings include materials from the former Texas Memorial Museum, several hybrids, and extensive series of several species from the U.S. and Mexico, including:

  • Rosy Finch complex (Leucosticte tephrocotisL. australis, and L. atrata)
  • Dark-eyed Junco complex (Junco hyemalis)
  • Green-winged Teal (Anas crecca)
  • Least Sandpiper (Calidris minutilla)
  • Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)
  • Barn Owl (Tyto alba)
  • Golden-fronted Woodpecker (Melanerpes aurifrons)
  • Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)
  • Red-eyed Vireo (Vireo olivaceus)
  • Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)
  • American Robin (Turdus migratorius)
  • Clay-colored Robin (Turdus grayi)
  • Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos)
  • Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum)
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler (Dendroica coronata)
  • Common Bush-tanager (Chlorospingus opthalmicus)
  • Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina)
  • Lark Bunting (Calamospiza melanocorys)
  • Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis)
  • White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys)
  • Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)
  • Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta)
  • Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)
  • Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater), House Finch (Carpodacus mexicanus)
  • Chestnut-capped Brush-finch (Atlapetes brunneinucha)
  • House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)

There is also a separate Teaching Collection of over 250 skins, a dozen or so taxidermy mounts, and miscellaneous skeletal material and feathers, primarily from deaccessioned specimens from the Bird Collection at the NSRL.  The Teaching Collection is housed in the Department of Biological Sciences at TTU and represents an invaluable hands-on learning resource for students.  

We also have a growing ornithological library that has been made possible through generous donations of books, field guides, and scientific papers; please contact thecurator for a list of holdings.

Loan policy

Please contact the Curator of Collections or Curator for any loans from the Bird Collection or to plan a visit. For more information on loans please visit our loan page.