Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

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Maintenance on this system will make it temporarily unavailable for short periods of time between 8:00 and 10:00 AM EDT this Saturday, 06 June.

Search will be unavailable on Tuesday, 17 April, from 10 to 10:30 AM (EDT)

Birds Collection Search

The Division of Birds, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, houses and maintains the third largest bird collection in the world with over 625,000 specimens. Our National Collection has representatives of about 80% of the approximately 9600 known species in the world's avifauna. The collection is comprised of specimens primarily prepared as study skins, skeletons, fluid preserved, eggs, nests, and mounted skins. We also hold nearly 4000 primary type specimens.

Search the Bird Collections

Keyword searches on summary fields can be run from the Keywords Search tab. Searches can be run against specific fields from the Search by Field tab. If you don't know what to search for, try one of the three sample searches in the Quick Browse list below.

Please note that only 85% of our total holdings have complete records in the public specimen database. Finches, sparrows, doves, and old-world flycatchers are some examples of groups that do not have a complete set of records in the database. It is also important to note that most collections acquired in the last 20-30 years are not searchable on the public database. In addition, we have over 40,000 tissue samples, but only a small percentage of those are searchable through the public database. For more information about specimen or tissue holdings, please contact Chris Milensky (milenskyc[at]


See the Help tab to learn more about searching and then exploring your returned results (sorting, exporting, etc.).

Quick Browse Searches

Use the By Field search to find specimen data that match values in specific database fields. Enter a value or choose one from the dropdown lists.

Enter your keywords separated by spaces and click Search. Records that match your search terms will be returned.

Note that searching for common (vernacular) names may not yield the expected results. Associating common names with specimen records is a work in progress.

Keyword search example: icterus costa rica type

The results of your searches can be displayed in Grid (a sortable, customizable table) or Gallery View (best for reviewing images). Use the Switch button Change View to cycle between these views.

In Grid View:

In Gallery View:

See Exporting Results for information on downloading results to, for example, Excel.

Open the full collection record by clicking the expansion button (Expansion button) in Grid View, or anywhere within the image frame in Gallery View. Inverse expansion buttons (Collapse button) indicate records with multimedia (typically, images).

Sort results in Grid View by clicking the column header (or by choosing Sort from the column's dropdown menu).

Export all or selected results by clicking the Export Results as CSV button in the bottom toolbar in Grid or Gallery View.

Here are a few search tips:

To create a link to specific records at NMNH provide a querystring for:

where QUERYSTRING is (use a plus-sign to separate case-insensitive terms):

It is best to use only letters, numbers, pluses (+), dashes (-), and commas in your querystrings, and to avoid other characters.

Please use the Feedback page to report problems you find with the data, or with using these search pages.