General Inquiries and Collection Information
Kimball L. Garrett
Dr. Kenneth Campbell
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Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
900 Exposition Blvd.
Los Angeles, California 90007 USA
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Ornithology, the study of birds, is one of the founding disciplines of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. At the core of the program is a research collection of 115,000 bird specimens, representing over 5,400 species. Our collections are particularly strong for North America, Africa, South America, and the Pacific Ocean. The bird skeleton collection, representing over 14,000 individuals, is among the three largest in western North American and is an important resource for the Museum’s well-known studies of fossil birds.
Dr. Campbell has been a Curator at the Natural History Museum since 1977. His first duties were as Curator of the large collection of fossil birds from the Rancho La Brea tar pits at the newly opened George C. Page Museum, then as Curator of all fossil birds in the collections of the Natural History Museum. He has served as Curator of Birds, responsible for all collections of birds, both fossil and recent, since 1997. His research interests focus on the study of fossil birds and avian functional morphology. A critic of the hypothesis that birds are living dinosaurs, he has argued that all so-called “feathered dinosaurs” are, in fact, simply fascinating early members of the avian family tree unrelated to dinosaurs. Dr. Campbell also has led numerous geological and paleontological expeditions to the Amazon Basin of South America, and he has published extensively on the geologic history of the Amazon and its paleofaunas.
Having served as Collections Manager since 1982, Kimball Garrett is responsible for the care, use, and growth of the ornithological collections as well as the databases associated with the collections. He is considered an authority on the field identification and status and distribution of the birds of California and particularly of the Los Angeles region. He is a past president of Western Field Ornithologists, a long-standing member of that organization’s California Bird Records Committee, and has served on the American Birding Association’s Checklist Committee.
Free-flying parrots and parakeets are a familiar sight in urban areas of California, as well as in southern Texas and Florida. The Yellow-chevroned Parakeet, Brotogeris chiriri, native to the southern Amazon Basin of South America, was imported to the United States in large numbers in the 1970s and 1980s for the pet bird trade; such importations are now mostly prohibited by the Wild Bird Conservation Act of 1992. These small parakeets thrive in the Los Angeles area because of abundant food from planted trees such as the silk floss tree (which provides abundant seeds in its large green pods), date palms, and coral trees and certain eucalypts with their nectar-rich flowers. Exposition Park regularly hosts flocks of these birds — watch for them in the silk floss trees (the ones with the thorny green trunks, big green seed pods, and, in season, showy pink flowers) around the north side of the Museum, the coral trees at the east end of the Rose Garden, and any flowering eucalyptus trees. Flocks are also often seen in the Los Angeles Civic Center, Macarthur Park, Echo Park, and many other areas. In the ornithology collections at the Natural History Museum we have added a number of specimens of parrots and parakeets from the populations established in Southern California, all collected through the salvaging of birds found dead or moribund. Such series of specimens help document the identification, morphology, and genetics of "founding" populations which, over the decades, may become abundant and widespread in urban regions.