Collecting to Conserve

Collecting to Conserve

The study of Ornithology has historically been carried out through collecting specimens in order to study them closer.  Specimens are skinned and prepared in multiple ways in order to highlight different anatomical features.  Now with the modern techniques of DNA sampling and observation, specimen collecting has been demonized and is systematically underfunded.  This could lead to the potential lose of thousands of scientifically valuable specimens.

The fact is that more wild birds are killed by the domestic cat and power lines yearly then by scientific collectors.  Specimens offer invaluable, irreplaceable information that DNA sampling and pure observation cannot.  Without raptor egg specimens from before the U.S. started using DDT, as a pesticide, scientists would never have been able to link DDT to the thinning of raptor eggs.  This vital information saved many bird of prey species from extinction least of which, our national bird, the Bald Eagle.  

Ornithology collections are a national treasure that is in need of be cared for by a new generation of enthusiasts.  Without proper funding and management these collections will be lost forever due to bug infestation, and mishandling.  Lost with them will be an irreplaceable bank of knowledge. 

The hope of this work is to showcase the beauty of these specimens and highlight their importance to scientific understanding.  It is such a rare thing to be able to examine a wild animal so intimately.  A bird in the hand is a truth waiting to be told.

 

© all images property of Tara Champion

   
  
 
  
    
  
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  Student of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Arvia Glass, learns to prepare a full skin specimen in the Museum of the North’s bird lab, Fairbanks Alaska.  Getting new taxidermists interested and trained to prepare specimens properly is vital to future of these priceless collections.          © all images property of Tara Champion

Student of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Arvia Glass, learns to prepare a full skin specimen in the Museum of the North’s bird lab, Fairbanks Alaska.  Getting new taxidermists interested and trained to prepare specimens properly is vital to future of these priceless collections. 

 

 

© all images property of Tara Champion

   
  
 
  
    
  
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  Specimens such as these Northern flickers,  Colaptes auratus , helped scientists realize that eastern and western flickers were hybridizing with each other creating variations in color within the species. Without such specimens researchers not been able to prove these species were breeding.         © all images property of Tara Champion

Specimens such as these Northern flickers, Colaptes auratus, helped scientists realize that eastern and western flickers were hybridizing with each other creating variations in color within the species. Without such specimens researchers not been able to prove these species were breeding.

 

 

© all images property of Tara Champion

 © all images property of Tara Champion

© all images property of Tara Champion

 © all images property of Tara Champion

© all images property of Tara Champion

 © all images property of Tara Champion

© all images property of Tara Champion

 © all images property of Tara Champion

© all images property of Tara Champion

 © all images property of Tara Champion

© all images property of Tara Champion

   
  
 
  
    
  
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  A specimen gets a cotton body in the Museum of the North’s bird lab, Fairbanks Alaska.  It takes hours of practice to be able to prepare a specimen correctly.  It is an art that is struggling to find appreciation.        © all images property of Tara Champion

A specimen gets a cotton body in the Museum of the North’s bird lab, Fairbanks Alaska.  It takes hours of practice to be able to prepare a specimen correctly.  It is an art that is struggling to find appreciation.

 

 

© all images property of Tara Champion

 © all images property of Tara Champion

© all images property of Tara Champion

 © all images property of Tara Champion

© all images property of Tara Champion

 © all images property of Tara Champion

© all images property of Tara Champion

   
  
 
  
    
  
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  Small teaching collections like this, put together for local schools, get a lot of wear and tear but allow students to closely examine and learn about avian morphology.  Being able to inspect and compare the different features of birds brings greater understanding to a new generation.        © all images property of Tara Champion

Small teaching collections like this, put together for local schools, get a lot of wear and tear but allow students to closely examine and learn about avian morphology.  Being able to inspect and compare the different features of birds brings greater understanding to a new generation.

 

 

© all images property of Tara Champion