Birds

Programs & Exhibitions

Most of the bird taxidermy in the museum is located in Bird Hallway on the third floor, although there are also some specimens in the dioramas on the rear second floor and in Botany Hall. The exhibits provide an excellent venue to see some of the diversity in birds—particularly in winter, when getting outside is more difficult. The dioramas in Botany Hall have amazingly recreated natural habitats containing some native birds. Highlights include a Lake Erie shoreline, a Pennsylvania bog, northern hardwood forest, and spring flora in southwestern Pennsylvania.

The upper portion of Bird Hallway has an array of two centuries of the world’s birds illustrating many topics: Endangered and Extinct Species, Flightlessness, Tropical Rainforests, Birds of Paradise, Sexual Dimorphism, Avian Reproduction, Aquatic Birds, Adaptations for Feeding, and Defining Species. The lower hallway mostly displays non-passerines (non-perching birds) found in Pennsylvania: ducks, raptors, herons, doves, and shorebirds, gallinaceous birds (ground-feeding game birds), and more.

Many of the natural history habitat groups in the Hall of North American Wildlife have birds in the large mammal-dominated cases. Often the birds play a major role, as in the Glacier Bear Group with the excellent rendition of a bald eagle defending his food. In other dioramas, the birds blend in with the habitat and do not draw attention to their presence, such as the bohemian waxwings in the Mountain Caribou Group. In any of these areas, visitors are drawn into the habitat and can easily imagine visiting the landscapes. This is especially true of the Kodiak Bear Group, in which the foreground of the diorama extends into the room and sounds of gulls can be heard, with one gull circling above with no visible support.