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Ornithology Department

About the Department

The Ornithology Collection began with the founding of the Museum of Comparative Zoology by Louis Agassiz in 1859. Starting with the department’s first accession of a small group of birds purchased by Agassiz at the Boston Market in 1846, the collection has grown into one of the largest and most important ornithological collections in the world.

Curators Joel Asaph Allen, William Brewster, Outram Bangs, James Peters and Raymond Paynter, Jr., helped to build Ornithology into the world renowned collection it is today. Ernst Mayr, although not a curator, kept an office in the Ornithology Department and was active in supervising PhD students in the 1960s and 1970s.

Currently under the direction of Curator Scott Edwards, the Ornithology Collection continues to grow and to provide a valuable resource to our many undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and to the worldwide ornithological community.