The INHS Bird Collection consists of over 3,000 specimens of over 200 species. Much of the INHS collection dates from the 1950s through the 1970s and is almost exclusively from Illinois. Although relatively small, the collection includes such rare species as Sprague’s Pipit (Anthus spragueii) and a very large sample (over 200 individuals) of the Gray-cheeked Thrush (Catharus minimus), a common migrant. Many of the specimens were dead when collected at the bases of television towers statewide, documenting comparative mortality of birds at these structures.

The collection also includes an impressive egg collection gathered between the late 1880s and early 1930s, donated to INHS by Arthur Blocher. This collection consists of hundreds of egg sets representing hundreds of species collected not only in Illinois but from throughout the United States, and includes many species not found in Illinois. There is a modest nest collection as well.

The University of Illinois collection, which INHS now manages, complements the INHS collection. There are many excellent specimens of species collected outside this country, including representatives from such diverse groups as penguins (Spheniscidae), woodcreepers (Dendrocolaptidae), hoatzin (Opisthocomidae), and even kiwis (Apterygidae).

Location and Access

The INHS bird collection is housed on the second floor of the Natural Resources Studies Annex (room 212) in University of Illinois Research Park.

Access to the collection by qualified researchers, normally available from 8:30am–5pm M–F may be arranged by contacting curator Kevin Johnson.

Specimen loans

Specimen loans are available to qualified researchers. Loans are generally made for a period of two years, renewable upon request. Primary types are generally loaned for a period of three months from the date received by the borrower and are non-renewable. Holotypes, allotypes, and a major portion of the type series of each species described based on INHS specimens must be returned.

To request a loan of specimens, please use our loan request form, and our collection manager will respond to you within 2 business days.

Acquisitions and maintenance

In general, specimens will not be accessioned unless they have been properly curated and have data that includes at least the collection locality and date. Standard methods of preserving, maintaining, and mounting specimens are followed. Pest control procedures include the limited use of naphthalene, scheduled inspections of all drawers in the collection, fumigation/freezing of all incoming pinned material, avoidance of food and water sources in the collection, and general housekeeping.

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