O&M Highlights

  • Collecting a whale mandible


    Staff, associates, students and volunteers
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  • Allen's Hummingbird, taxonomic name "Selasphorus sasin"


    Search O&M collection databases.
    more >>

  • South Pacific Biotic Inventories


    Ornithology & Mammalogy field research
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  • Research from around the world


    Publications by department authors.
    more >>

  • Harbor Seal, taxonomic name "Phoca vitulina"


    Marine Mammal Stranding Network
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We have over 135,000 bird and mammal specimens from 120+ countries, with strengths in western North America, Mexico, Central America, the Galapagos, Solomon Islands, southeast Asia, and one of the world's largest marine mammal collections.

Research Experts

California Academy of Sciences' scientists are accessible to discuss their body of work.


natural history collection

The Importance of Natural History Collections


Front Cover Hearst Publication

CAS Special Publication: The Coral Triangle - The 2011 Hearst Philippine Biodiversity Expedition


The California Academy of Sciences is pleased to announce that 12 new members have joined the ranks of the Academy Fellows, a governing group of around 300 distinguished scientists who have made...

Today we are pleased to officially announce the launch of PLoS Hubs: Biodiversity, a new pilot Web site to connect the biodiversity community with...

Sugar Loaf

The Academy, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and PRBO Conservation Science have teamed up to launch a live streaming web cam.

Ornithology Exchange

Become a member of the Ornithology Exchange and get access to articles, photos, forums, blogs, upcoming events, and other helpful resources!

Research Expeditions

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The search forms provide access to the three primary collection databases of the Department of Ornithology & Mammalogy.  These databases describe specimens in the Mammal, Bird, and Egg & Nest collections.  The query forms in each database enables records to be retrieved using various fields (e.g. Genus, Country, Year, etc.).  A maximum of 1,000 records can be retrieved at one time.  Entering search criteria into more than one field can help keep result sets under the 1,000-record limit.

Currently cataloged in our collection database are 96,000 bird specimens, 28,500 mammal specimens, and 11,000 egg and nest specimens.  As our computerization continues, more specimens will be added to our on-line database through periodic updates.  Additionally, we are actively georeferencing many of our localities.

Discover and Protect a New Mammal Species

Help Academy scientists Jack Dumbacher and Galen Rathbun with their quest to describe and protect a new species of sengi.


  • How do I take care of a baby bird?

    If it appears that the baby bird fell out of a nest, then simply locate the nest nearby and carefully place the bird back in the nest. Despite persistent fallacies, the parents cannot smell your odor on the baby bird, and will usually accept the young back into the nest. Young birds often fall from nests after wind storms, when the nesting sites are disturbed by construction, predators, or children, or when an older sibling kicks them out of the nest. If you cannot locate a nest, keep the bird in a suitable warm container, and contact your local SPCA or a certified wildlife care facility immediately (see contact list below).

    Wildcare (San Rafael)

    Peninsula Humane Society (San Mateo)

    Wildlife Rehabilitation Information Directory

  • I would like to visit the Ornithology & Mammalogy Collections. Who should I contact?
  • How do you know if an animal is endangered?
  • I found a dead sea lion and I called The Marine Mammal Center. They said to call you guys. How do I report it?

    If it is dead, call us at 415-379-5381 and we’ll try to salvage it for research. If it is still alive, please call the Marine Mammal Center at 415-289-SEAL (415-289-7325) – they will retrieve it and take care of it.  We’ll need to know where and when you found the sea lion (or any other stranded marine mammal).

    Marine Mammal Stranding Network

  • How do I remove a nuisance animal from my yard?

    In urban and suburban areas, some animals have become habituated to humans because we provide food and housing for them. If these animals become a nuisance, there are several steps you can take to make them feel unwelcome, and lessen the likelihood that they’ll stick around:

    Feed all pets indoors. These animals often raid your pet’s food bowls at night and learn that your home is an easy meal for them.

    Keep all trash cans upright and with tight-fitting (or locking) lids. These are crafty animals that have learned to associate trash cans with food, and frequently raid your trash area for food. Keeping your trash cans critter proof will keep your place tidy and keep unwanted animals away.

    Cover all basements, decks, and crawlspaces. Use of plywood, bricks, or wire mesh should be used to block any entries into basements, attics, crawlspaces, or under foundations where these animals may set up home and raise a family.

    If skunks, opossums, or raccoons become a persistent problem, call your local Animal Control officers.

  • I found an injured bird. What should I do?

    If a bird hit a window and appears stunned but otherwise uninjured, it is important to place the bird into a warm, darkened box or similar container, and release the bird when it comes back to its senses. Leaving a bird in such a condition outside makes it easy prey for cats, dogs, or other predators. If the animal appears to have an injury, or it you find an animal injured in any other way, contact your local SPCA or a certified wildlife care facility immediately (see contact list below).

    Wildcare (San Rafael)

    Peninsula Humane Society (San Mateo)

    Wildlife Rehabilitation Information Directory

  • I searched your database but didn't find the type specimen I was looking for. Can you suggest another database to search?

    Yes.  Try looking in the Integrated Taxonomic Information System.

  • Can I get a copy of the rain forest bird list?
  • Why does that bird always sing?

    “Those Damned Birds Keep Singing, And It’s Driving Me Nuts!” (An actual quote from a homeowner about birds singing in his yard.) Some birds, like the Northern Mockingbird, may sing night and day during the breeding season, and other birds, like crows and jays, may raise a ruckus from time to time. However, all native birds are protected by law, and there’s little you or any private or government agency can do about it. For most people, the songs of birds, even if too loud at times, are joyous reminders of the diversity of nature in their community.

  • Can I collect specimens?

    Native birds and mammals living within the State of California are protected either by state, federal, or international laws, even when they are dead. It is illegal for private citizens to own most native birds or mammals, either in whole or in part (including skulls, bones, antlers, and even feathers), except under terms of special permits or by exemptions under hunting laws and licenses. Therefore, collecting most bird or mammal specimens, either alive or dead, is illegal without proper permits and licenses. Fines and penalties for violating such regulations can amount to thousands of dollars, and even the possibility of jail time, depending on the severity of the infraction. The California Department of Fish & Game issues permits to educational institutions for use of bird or mammal material in educational programs.

  • Can you identify this bird, bone, or animal?

Fur and Feather Blog

Take an inside look at the work of Research Division’s Ornithology and Mammalogy department. Learn about what our staff does every day, view amazing expedition pictures, and get information on ongoing research projects as well as current topics in the Ornithology and Mammalogy community.

Scientific museum specimens were often collected for one reason, and then used in studies that were not even imagined by the original field collector.  This is easy to understand for collections made 100 years ago for taxonomic purposes and that are now used for studies of stable isotopes, ancient DNA, environmental toxicology, and evidence of […]
After we articulated the second flipper and the Built for Speed exhibit closed on September 29th, it was time to put Orca O319 on permanent display. He couldn’t stay hanging on that frame in the piazza forever! It was decided that he should be someplace where people could see him up close like they had […]
It’s been almost two months since we completed O319, but there is still one piece missing: the right flipper. I mentioned previously that O319 only has its left flipper completed while the bones from the right flipper continue to be cleaned. As I explained before, the humerus, radius, and ulna of the right flipper were originally […]
On Sunday, June 9th, we finished our articulation (all except for the right flipper, which will be completed at a later date. Read more about that here). The  hyoids, scapulae, flipper, pelvic bones, and skull were all attached to complete O319’s skeleton. Over the last five weeks, we had 286 total pieces to assemble. The […]

Return of the Fur Seals

Over 150 years after sealers drove the Farallon Islands' colony of northern fur seals to extinction, the animals are beginning to reclaim their old haven.

The Farallon Islands, about 20 miles west of San Francisco, once boomed with a colony of up to 200,000 northern fur seals. But between 1807 and 1840, American, British, and Russian sealers, who hunted the marine mammals for their prized satin-soft fur, extirpated them from the islands.

Read more about it