Collection Fact Sheet
The largest collection of Mexican birds in the world
The Laboratory’s collection of birds and mammals, containing 64,121 specimens (62,382 birds and 2158 mammal specimens as of September 2002) is among the world’s largest research natural history collections. The collection is primarily Neotropical, reflecting Moore’s particular interest in the Mexican, Central and northern South American avifaunas, and as such, MLZ contains the world’s most important single collection of Mexican birds. These specimens were a large part of the material cited in The Distributional Check-list of Mexican Birds (1950 and 1957), and was originally housed in Moore’s private home in Pasadena, Calif. The collection, as well as Moore’s personal library, was moved to the Occidental College campus in 1951.
Chester C. Lamb worked for Moore from July 1933 through June 1955, a period of 22 years, and during that time Lamb collected 40,000+ bird specimens, all from Mexico. Lamb also collected nests, eggs and mammal specimens for Moore. Specimens were also purchased from several other professional collectors, of note: Austin P. Smith, the Olalla brothers (and sons), the del Toro Aviles brothers (Mario and Sergio), C. F. Underwood, W. W. Brown, J. T. Wright and others. Moore made collecting expeditions to Ecuador in 1929 and 1931.
The ornithology collection contains 62,382 specimens (61,156 studyskins, 1,246 bird skeletons, and 285 liquid preserved specimens), 582 nests and eggs. The collection also contains artwork including natural history paintings by Allan Brooks, Louis A. Fuertes, Walter Weber and R. Espino, as well as Lamb’s field catalogue and notes (1933 – 1955). There are 81 bird holotypes and numerous paratypes and topotypes, most described by Robert T. Moore.
Strengths of the bird collection: Psittacidae, 734; Trochilidae, 6,957; Trogonidae, 463; Strigidae, 538; Picidae, 2507; Tyrannidae, 7,554; Muscicapidae, 3552; Troglodytidae, 2846; Parulidae, 4433; Icteridae, 3591 and Emberizidae, 11,702.
The mammal collection contains 2158 specimens, many with ancillary materials: skeleton, chromosomal preparations, frozen tissues and field notes.
The material in these collections provide an inexhaustible source of information for research as well as teaching in the biological disciplines of evolution, systematics, ecology, behavior and physiology.
We have recently upgraded the facility’s network infrastructure and data storage capacity to keep us at the leading edge. All specimen data have been entered into Microsoft Access (.db)database format. So far data for 99.9% of the specimens have been entered. (17 Apr 2001).
Past Directors/Curators: Joe T. Marshall, Don Medina, Patrick J. Gould, Raymond M. Selle, John W. Hardy, Luis F. Baptista, Martin L. Morton, Walter D. Koenig and John C. Hafner.
Present Staff: Fiona Gowen (Curatorial Associate).
The Moore Laboratory of Zoology Bird and Mammal Collections are research collections and can be accessed by appointment only, Monday-Friday, 8-12 & 1-5pm.
Access is granted to research scientists and graduate students only.
There is no public access.
- Phone: (323) 259-2673