Birds of a Feather
What can you learn about birds from the Royal BC Museum?
Museum collections are windows into the past. They show what landscapes once existed and how life continues to evolve in a changing environment. The bird collection at the Royal BC Museum is home to nearly 41,000 preserved specimens from 470 species. Birds come in a variety of colours, shapes and sizes. Look through the collection and be dazzled by the iridescent feathers of hummingbirds, the long bills of shorebirds or the majestic size of swans!
Today, many birds face threats to their survival, including the following:
- habitat loss
- pesticide use
- invasive species
- climate change
For example, many birds collected by the museum today are those that were killed by domestic cats or collisions into windows. Invasive species like European Starlings compete with native birds for resources, and warming temperatures push alpine birds towards the edge of their ranges. As a result, an astounding three billion birds have been lost in North America in just 50 years.
Citizen science programs like eBird or iNaturalist invite community members to collect and share bird observations. A single scientist in one part of the world can collect only so much data—but in today’s interconnected world, everyone can contribute with a click on a digital device. Scientists use these large samples of data along with museum data to drive important conservation actions.
Anybody can be a citizen scientist, including you. Explore this pathway to find out how, and take part in protecting the birds in your backyard!