The Ornithology Sub-Section currently consists of two permanent staff (Curator and Collections Manager) and a large, diverse ornithological research collection. The Bird Collection represents the largest assemblage of bird and bird-related specimens at any research institution in South Africa, and is also the fourth biggest museum bird collection in the Southern Hemisphere. The collection consists of 50 535 specimens including 33 527 study (flat) skins, 4836 skeletons, 3741 fluid-preserved specimens, 9221 egg clutches and >250 nests of more than 2040 bird species from over 8000 localities in 60 different countries. Most of our specimens originate from South Africa (e.g. 59.4% of study skins), with good representative material from Botswana and Namibia. Our specimens have been used for hundreds of scientific papers and many ornithological books (e.g. Roberts’ Birds of Southern Africa (2005); SASOL Fieldguide to the Birds of Southern Africa (1993)).
The Bird or Ornithology Section has had a fluctuating history as the structure of the Ditsong National Museum of Natural History has altered over the decades. Until the Second World War, the Bird Collections were curated within a larger “Higher Vertebrates Department” under the curatorship of Austin Roberts. During his 38-year-long career at the Museum Roberts established the museum’s bird collection as the finest on the African continent. Aside from many scientific papers, Roberts’s crowning achievement was the publication of “Birds of South Africa” (1940). A substantial proportion of the skin material in the Bird Collection is due to collecting by Roberts, who undertook expeditions to augment the collection to, inter alia, the Western Cape (1917), Zululand (1928, 1929, 1933), Botswana (1930) and Namibia (1937, 1941). Since Roberts’s time various other distinguished ornithologists have worked at the Museum, foremost being Dr Alan Kemp who arrived in 1970. During his tenure, Alan Kemp specialized in hornbills and raptors, especially concentrating on elucidating the field biology of these birds. The staff in the Bird Section have been responsible for a multitude of scientific papers and also numerous important bird books including: Birds of South Africa (Roberts, 1940), The Hornbills (Kemp, 1995), Shrikes of Southern Africa (Harris, 1988), Birds of Prey of Africa and its islands (Kemp & Kemp, 1998), Birds of Transvaal (Tarboton, Kemp & Kemp, 1987), and Owls of Southern Africa (Calburn & Kemp, 1987).
Bird Section, Vertebrate Dept, Ditsong National Museum of Natural History, PO Box 413, Pretoria, South Africa, 0001 Tamar Cassidy
Collections Manager Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bird Section, Vertebrate Dept, Ditsong National Museum of Natural History, PO Box 413, Pretoria, South Africa, 0001
Bird Section, Vertebrate Dept, Ditsong National Museum of Natural History, Paul Kruger Street (corner of Visagie Street), Pretoria, South Africa
Study (flat) skins, alcohol (fluid) specimens and skeletons are available for loan to bona fide scientists and ornithologists. We do not unfortunately loan out eggs due to their fragile nature.
Loan queries should be directed to Tamar Cassidy (email@example.com), outlining the research being undertaken and what material or species you are interested in. Loans are typically of six months’ duration, but may be extended.
Database queries may also be directed to Tamar Cassidy or Greg Davies.