The birds have been prepared in a variety of ways, depending on what they were used for. Many of the mounted specimens were originally displayed in museums or in the home, while study skins and spirit material were prepared for use by researchers.
There are about 1,070 bird specimens in Hampshire Museums Service's collections, some in cases, others un-cased. The oldest specimen is a guillemot Uria aalge HMCMS:CRH1947.13, which was shot by James Edward, second Earl of Malmesbury, under the Needles Cliffs, Totland, Isle of Wight in the summer of 1810. Many mammals were collected by the Crowley family, who had close links with the Curtis Museum.
The best specimens are those collected and preserved by:
Edward Hart of Christchurch, Dorset
William Chalkley of Winchester
Peter Spicer of Leamington Spa
Rowland Ward of London
John Gould of London
There are about 160 birds that have been prepared as a skin rather than as a mount. One advantage of this is that the specimens take up less space than the more common mounts. Study skins are useful for researchers as the skins hold useful information such as where and when found and measurements such as bill length, wing span etc can still be taken.
Fluid preserved specimens
Another method of storing our bird specimens is to preserve them in an alcohol. As the entire bird is preserved rather than just the skin, this method is useful for research purposes. This area of the collections is still being developed.
There are 2470 clutches of birds eggs in our collections, representing 266 species of mainly British birds. Eggs are useful for comparing variation of colour and size within a species and have been used for looking at the effects of chemicals (such as DDT) which causes the thinning of egg shells. Eggs also provide evidence for breeding.Today museums can only accept birds eggs if it can be proved that they were collected before the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981 which made egg collecting illegal.
Oystercatcher eggs 1943