• Owls_Drawer
    Barred Owls in the Ornithology & Mammalogy Collection
  • Passenger_Pigeon_Egg_Collection
    Passenger Pigeon Egg in the Ornithology & Mammalogy Collection
  • Passenger_Pigeon_Collection
    Passenger Pigeons in Ornithology & Mammalogy Collection
  • Collection Pelt Room
    Collection Pelt Room

Currently cataloged in our collection database are 96,000 bird specimens, 28,500 mammal specimens, and 11,000 egg and nest specimens. Specimens originate from over 120 countries, but the strengths of the department are its extensive holdings of birds and mammals from western North America, as well as important collections from Mexico and Central America, the Galapagos Islands, the Solomon Islands, China, Myanmar, the Philippines, and eastern Africa. The department contains one of the world's largest collections of marine mammals with several thousand specimens of seals, sea lions, whales, dolphins, sea otters, and sirenians.

The collections are available to researchers, artists, and other individuals with pre-approved projects that require access. The Department of Ornithology and Mammalogy may be able to provide additional information about some specimens that may not be recorded in our on-line databases. Researchers needing access to specimens in the Ornithology and Mammalogy collections should contact the Collections Manager. If specimens are needed for a loan, please refer to our Loan Policy.

Accuracy and Limitation of Liability

Although we make every attempt to provide reliable taxonomic, biological, distribution and ecological data, we cannot guarantee the absolute accuracy of these data. Identifications are provisional and should be verified by direct inspection of the specimens whenever possible. Additionally, we strive to keep up with continuing changes in taxonomy, nomenclature, and geopolitical boundaries, but not all changes may be immediately reflected in the database. We appreciate notification of any errors or inconsistencies in the data. The Department of Ornithology and Mammalogy, the California Academy of Sciences, or any of its staff or associates are not liable for loss or damages resulting from use of these data.


Department Visits

The Department of Ornithology and Mammalogy is not open to the general public. Individuals with specific needs may have access to study specimens within the collections if plans are made in advance. Entrance to, and use of, the collections is free of cost to researchers, graduate and undergraduate students, educators, government scientists, and artists. Commercial users, such as for-profit environmental firms, archaeological companies, advertising agencies, and the entertainment industry, may be levied a nominal charge. Please contact the collections manager (mflannery at calacademy.org) directly with a request to visit the collections at least one week prior to arrival. Such studies should be conducted during normal operating hours, weekdays, 9am - 5pm. Long-term visits must be organized through the collections manager.


Terms of Use

These databases and all images within them are owned and copyrighted by the California Academy of Sciences, ©2009, or licensed to it. The data and images may be used freely by individuals and organizations for purposes of basic research, education and conservation. These data and images may not be used for commercial or for-profit purposes without the express written consent of the California Academy of Sciences, and may not be repackaged, resold, or redistributed in any form.

Use of the data or images in publications, dissertations and theses, or other scientific reports, should be accompanied by an acknowledgement of the Department of Ornithology and Mammalogy, California Academy of Sciences, as the source for the information. Please provide the Department with separates of articles resulting from the use of these data or images. This helps us to document the use of specimens as “vouchers” in the literature. It also helps us to justify continued funding for the collections so that these resources remain available into the future.


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Academy Reopening

The Academy has reopened the public floor, research collections, labs and offices. As of September 2022, Covid-19 safety protocols remain in effect. Protocols for back-of-house visitors include wearing a mask as well as providing proof of full vaccination (boosted, if eligible). For additional inquiries and to schedule a research visit, contact the collection manager at the email listed below.

Contact the Collections Manager

Maureen (Moe) Flannery
California Academy of Sciences
55 Music Concourse Drive
San Francisco, CA 94118
(415) 379-5371 (direct)

Types of Preparation

We prepare specimens in three separate ways: wet/fluid, study skins, and skeletal.
Learn more