Birds | Natural History Museum of Los Angeles

With an incredibly diverse selection of more than 600 bird species from over the world, with a majority local to Southern California, our bird hall highlights include bird anatomy, the mechanics of flight and the architectural ingenuity of nest-building.

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Birds of a Feather

There are thousands of specimens in our bird collection. Many are on exhibit, and many more are studied by our researchers behind the scenes. See more >

I Saw This Bird Once...

Visit the Ornithology FAQs page to find out more about the flying fauna in your neck of the woods.
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Showing Up the Local Pigeons

Ever wonder how flocks of exotic Yellow-chevroned Parakeet ended up inhabiting urban areas in Southern California? Read more about these colorful birds on our Ornithology page. Learn more >

Field Trips & Travel

Galapagos: May 2010

Discover the Galapagos Islands, Darwin's living laboratory, on this Fellows adventure. Learn more >


Ralph W. Schreiber Hall of Birds

Do you know how bird flight actually works? Or where a bird’s knee bends? Or how many different types of nests there are? Even in the city, birds are part of our everyday landscape, but they’re often hidden in trees or winging overhead. Our Hall of Birds provides a rare chance to get a good long and close look at our winged friends.

This hall presents an incredibly diverse selection of birds from all over the world, with examples of more than 400 species that are local to Southern California. You’ll learn about the mechanics of flight and the particular anatomical details that determine how birds can fly. Be sure to open the drawers under the cases: There you’ll discover all kinds of bird specimen examples and parts: from egg types, to nests, wings, feet and more. The hall invites you to explore all the questions you may have about birds.

Curators' Favorites

Black-hooded Parakeet

Nandayus nenday

California’s bird life has been augmented by many non-native species, some introduced deliberately, others accidentally. Parrots and parakeets were imported in huge numbers for the pet bird trade, and many of these species have now gained a foothold in our urban and suburban landscapes.

Great Auk

Pinguinus impennis

This large penguin-like seabird of the North Atlantic was flightless and measured almost 3 feet tall. The Great Auk bred in large colonies on rocky islands of the north Atlantic coast and was an easy target when it went on shore to nest. Now extinct, the last known auks were killed near Iceland in 1844.

Swiftlet saliva nest

Edible-nest Swiftlet, Aerodramus fuciphagus

One bird’s nest soup, to go please. Swiftlet nests are made entirely from bird saliva. And if you think that sounds outlandish: Climbers in Southeast Asia collect these nests by ascending ladders that go up hundreds of feet into caves. Not everyone wants want to go to such lengths for a bowl of soup, but perhaps the swiflet nest specimen in our case will whet your appetite.

Condor with wings spread

Gymnogyps californianus

After narrowly escaping extinction, over 100 condors now soar over California and neighboring regions, but face severe threats from lead poisoning, shooting, and loss of their open mountain and foothill habitats.

Harpy Eagle

Harpia harpyja

Hunting through the canopy of tropical lowland forests of Central and South America, the magnificent Harpy Eagle preys mainly on tree-dwelling mammals such as sloths and monkeys (including this red howler monkey).

Morphing Cassowary

If you’ve ever wanted to see what it’s like to have x-ray vision, here’s your chance. This unique exhibit, using plate glass and special lighting techniques, makes it appear as though the bird and its skeleton are continually morphing one into the other. The magically intriguing transformation shows both the full-bodied creature and the underlying structure on which the bird’s body is built. An atypical bird, the flightless cassowary has strong stout legs, but tiny wings and a flat breastbone that differs greatly from the keeled breastbone of flying birds.