American Museum of Natural History – behind the scenes tour

Anna's Hummingbird from Liberty, New York dated 11/22/07

Anna’s Hummingbird from Liberty, New York dated 11/22/07

the group observes the skeleton of a Great Auk as Dr. Peter tells the history of this extinct species

the group observes the skeleton of a Great Auk as Dr. Peter tells the history of this extinct species

Today the Catskill Exotic Bird Club traveled to Manhattan to do a “Behind the Scenes Tour” of the Ornithology Wing of the American Museum of Natural History. Mark Spina and I joined Rich and Jackie Chiger, Matt and Naomi Frumess, Rick Stein and many others to see how specimens are procured, preserved and displayed at the museum. We were able to observe a Great Auk skeleton, a collection of Dodo bones as well as a head cast. Ostrich Skeletons and more in the Skeletal department. In the Study Skin department, we viewed Eagles from around the world, including a Harpy Eagle and a Philippines Eagle, two of the largest in the world. A collection of Birds of Paradise which were absolutely amazing. Hummingbirds from both north and south America. Dr. Peter was surprised when I asked to see a specific hummingbird. I explained that in October of 2007 Linda Boyce from Liberty had had a very late arrival of a hummingbird at her Salvia and Pineapple Sage. When I heard this, I asked if I could try to see it. I immediately realized that the bird was something different. After considerable research, I identified the bird as a hatch year Anna’s Hummingbird. A bird that should be in California or Arizona. After nearly a month of extremely cold temps in the low teens, the bird was found dead on Thanksgiving morning 11/22/07. We arranged for it to be donated to the Museum of Natural History in New York. I asked if it was possible to see the bird. He immediately remembered the story and said he was part of the preservation. We went to the appropriate drawer and he pulled out “Calypta Anna” female Liberty, Sullivan, New York 11/22/07. Everyone in the group enjoyed the story, though the ending was indeed sad. I was able to have some photos taken. Though I would much rather have had the bird fly away on its own, it wasn’t meant to be. I’m glad it is able to be part of permanent collection (the most recent addition and the only one from the north east and New York) to help in the education of ornithology students etc. for decades to come.

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