The bird skin collection is made up of specimens collected from all over the world, covering every continent. To name a smattering of examples we have: Eskimo Curlews from North America (now extinct), Toucans from South America, Sand Grouse from Africa, Great Crested Grebes from Europe, Mandarin Ducks from Asia, Kiwis from Australasia and Emperor Penguins from Antarctica. As our collection is used a lot for education it is great to be able to show such a variety of bird life, as it can highlight how diverse and interesting it can be. We have examples of many of the species found on the British Isles, but a large part of our collection contains such exotics as Birds of Paradise from Papua New Guinea, or Kookaburras from Australia.
Collectors would travel all over the world and collect examples of the wildlife that they could see. Some of them were experts on specific collecting trips but others were enthusiasts that had maybe been stationed in a remote trading post and would go out into the wilds seeing what they could find. Some collectors would have a connection with Leeds so when they came back they would donate the specimens to Leeds Museum to provide access to other researchers and fellow collectors. When available the collectors’ names are kept with the skins and mounts; it is important to keep the provenance of the specimens as it can provide a historical background and context to the collection.