About Rancho La Brea Birds | Natural History Museum of Los Angeles

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Bird List

For a current list of bird species identified from Rancho La Brea, click here.

Current Research at Rancho La Brea

Research has been conducted at Rancho La Brea since the early 1900s and continues to this day. Learn more >


Birds at Rancho La Brea

Rancho La Brea has one of the best fossil bird collections in the world due to the preservative character of the asphalt. At least 250,000 bird specimens represent 139 species. Twenty-three bird species, or 19 percent, are extinct. Songbirds are the most common in terms of number of species, but hawks and eagles are represented by the most individuals. Some groups, such as the ducks and geese, have yet to be studied in detail. The first extinct species to be described from Rancho La Brea was Merriam's Teratorn (Teratornis merriami) in1909. Teratorns are the largest birds found in the tar pits. New species continue to be discovered in the collection as research on the collections proceeds.


Teratorns are an extinct group of giant predatory birds that are classified in the bird family Teratornithidae. Learn more >