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Ornithology at the Burke

Ornithology is the study of the biology of birds. Topics include how we identify birds and understand their evolutionary history, what special physical and behavioral adaptations birds have, how birds live and reproduce, and how birds respond to changes in their environment. Within these web pages, you can learn more about the Burke Ornithology Division, its bird collections, and its activities.

The ornithological collections at the Burke Museum are relatively modern, with more than 85% of the collection built in the past 20 years. We maintain a comprehensive collection of birds from the Pacific Northwest, North America, and many other parts of the world. These bird specimens are used for teaching, research, and art. We are particularly known for our special collections such as spread wings (the largest such collection in the world) and bird tissues (probably the world's second largest collection).

Search the ornithology database

Drawer of bird specimens
Drawer of Australian "Robins" (genus Petroica) in the Burke Ornithology Collections.
Photo by Sharon Birks

Featured in Ornithology

Molt and migration of western birds

Since 1990, researchers at the Burke Museum have led the discovery of "molt migrations" in western songbirds 


Bird study collections for schools, and more. NEW: Washington birds breeding phenology project.


Exciting discoveries based on the Burke bird collections.