Finding dead birds
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The Australian Museum welcomes donations by the public of birds found dead. This is a major source of specimen acquisition by the Museum.
The Museum holds the necessary permits to possess protected native birds (and other wildlife). Although technically members of the public should have a licence to have in their possession native birds or any parts thereof, this is permitted in New South Wales as long as the specimen is being passed to the Museum.
It is illegal to retain the specimen or parts of it (including feathers) without the appropriate permission from the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service. Dead birds found interstate should be taken to the local state museum - it is illegal to carry these across state borders without the appropriate permits.
Dead birds should be placed in a zip locked plastic bag. If the Museum will receive them within a few hours, the birds need to be kept cool in a refrigerator. If this is not be possible, birds should be double-bagged in zip-lock plastic bags and kept frozen until the birds can be taken to the Museum.
The importance of proper documentation cannot be overly stressed; a specimen without it has limited scientific value. Include a note written in lead pencil that states where the bird was found (can be as specific as house/building number on a street or road, or as general as suburb); the date when it was found written in full (e.g. Monday, 01 September 2019). If you would like to be acknowledged as the finder of the bird, please include your full name. If possible, please also note the colours of the eyes, beak, and legs as these can be useful indicators of the age of the bird.
Any other relevant information can be added, such as suspected cause of death (e.g. hit window; road kill), surrounding habitat where the bird was found (e.g. residential street; roadside adjacent to farmed paddocks; suburban parkland, etc.). Also give contact details if you want to have an identification confirmed.
There is also a requirement to complete a Deed of Gift upon making a donation of a specimen to the museum. You can contact the museum to have one sent to you for you to complete to bring in with the specimen. One can also be completed in person at the time of donation, if access to a computer or a printer is limited.
Getting specimens to the Museum
It is preferred that specimens are delivered to the museum during business hours, from Monday to Friday. To ensure that Bird Collection staff are available, it is best to contact us ahead of delivery and make arrangements with staff.
Some NSW National Parks and Wildlife Services offices have freezers in which they keep dead birds that have been found or brought in. Periodically, Museum staff visit the offices to clear the freezers and return the specimens to the Museum. If you are unable to deliver the specimen to the museum in person, an alternative is to drop off the specimen at your nearest NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service office.