Saturday, September 28, 2013

Ground Parrot collection in the American Museum of Natural History, New York

Image from Wikipedia commons

The museum holds seventeen Ground Parrot skins. Most, if not all of them, would have been part of G. M. Mathews’ huge collection of Australian bird skins which numbered 30,000. He had an additional 10,000 bird skins. The collection was acquired by the museum in 1931 to Mathews’ disappointment as although he had to sell it in the late 1920s due financial difficulties, he had hoped it would stay in Australia or England.

The seventeen skins are made up of one from Western Australia, two from South Australia, one from Victoria, twelve from New South Wales and one from Australia. Below is information about some of the skins, obtained from the museum’s website.

Skin 623806. Pezoporus wallicus flaviventris. A juvenile collected by F.L. Whitlock and G. M. Mathews at Wilson’s Inlet, South-western Australia on 20 November 1912.

This is the only specimen of a Western Ground Parrot in the collection. Presumably it was collected for Mathews, by Whitlock who lived near Wilson’s Inlet. This juvenile just might have been one of the WGP chicks that Whitlock had discovered on 20 October in the same vicinity. (See blog entry August 2013 ‘Finding Western Ground Parrot nests’.

Skin 623820. Pezoporus wallicus wallicus. Collected by G. M. Mathews at Tatanoola (Heath country) Glengelly River, South-east South Australia, 1903.

Ground Parrots have been extinct in South Australia since the 1940s.

Skin 623807. Pezoporus wallicus wallicus. A male collected by G. M. Mathews near Wollongong NSW, 1890.

Skin 623815. Pezoporus wallicus wallicus. A female collected by G. M. Mathews at Long Bay near Sydney, November 1895.


  1. 30,000 skins?? That can't have helped in the preservation of any of the species....

  2. Oh dear how did that happen that they left Australian and went overseas. Chris