Friday, February 5, 2010

Ivory-Billed Woodpecker Specimen at Harvard

Originally posted 2/28/11 - backdated to organize posts by topic.

Ivory-Billed Woodpecker, originally uploaded by hyperion327

This impressive looking, male Ivory-billed Woodpecker specimen is on display at the Harvard Museum of Natural History in Cambridge, Massachusetts. According to the Onithology Information System (ORNIS) database, a total of 260 North American and 9 Cuban ivorybill specimens collected from March 7, 1844 to December 6, 1935 are housed in North American collections (not including any specimens that are housed in museums in Cuba). Most specimens were collected in Florida in the late 1800s to early 1900s.

The Top 5 holders of ivorybill specimens, according to ORNIS are:

Harvard, MA - 72
The Field Museum, IL - 38
The Smithsonian, DC - 35
American Museum of Natural History, NY - 27
The Academy of Natural Sciences, PA - 20

With regard to collecting any animal that has become endangered or worse, we'll probably never know how many were enough to collect, and how many were excessive.

From the ORNIS site:  

Over 5 million bird specimens are housed in North American collections, documenting the composition, distribution, ecology, and systematics of the world's estimated 10,000-16,000 bird species. Millions of additional observational records are held in diverse data sets. ORNIS addresses the urgent call for increased access to these data in an open and collaborative manner.

Photo by hyperion327, posted here under Creative Commons License.


Jay said...

My local natural/cultural history museum, "The Pink Palace," has one on display. I didn't know there were so few (relatively speaking) in collections. That makes me respect my hometown museum a bit more (I actually worked there for about a year)... and I'll show a little more reverence for that specimen next time I visit too.

Bill Benish said...

Thanks for that info about The Pink Palace Museum Jay. I'm not really sure how many ivorybills are in museum collections. ORNIS will only represent specimens entered into its database from participating museums in North America. I don't see yours in their list.


Hi Bill

I removed myself from following your blog as per your request. But I still think you are a great bird photographer :-)

Take care and have a great week


Bill Benish said...

Thank you.

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