Curator : Professor Blaire Van Valkenburgh
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Collections Manager: Kathy Molina (contact information below)
The UCLA Donald R. Dickey Bird and Mammal Collection consists of over 50,000 skins and skeletons of birds and mammals from the United States, Canada, Mexico, Central America, and islands in the Pacific. The collection was developed by Donald R. Dickey of Pasadena between 1910 and1932. Donated to UCLA in 1940 by his widow, Florence Van Vechten Dickey, it is one of the world's best collections of birds and mammals of the American southwest and Central America. It is used for teaching and research by faculty, students, and visiting scientists
Born in Iowa, Donald Ryder Dickey (1887-1932) first visited California at age 16 and hiked up Mount Whitney with a Sierra Club group that included John Muir. Struck by a serious heart problem in his senior year at Yale University, Dickey was bedridden for the next two years. During this time he became fascinated by the wildlife he observed, and developed a remote camera to capture the animals on film.
After documenting birds and mammals from California, Dickey soon moved to other locations, including the wilds of Canada, Mexico, El Salvador and Hawaii. In addition to still photography, Dickey mastered filmmaking and produced some of the first motion pictures of wildlife in natural settings. His films of seabirds in flight were studied by Howard Hughes' engineers to improve their design of airplane wings.
Soon after returning to full health, Dickey dedicated the remaining years of his short life to building a museum collection of birds and mammals of southern California. The resulting collection of over 50,000 mammals and birds, 10,000 natural history books, and more than 7500 photographs was the first of its kind in southern California. This he accomplished in about ten years before he died in Pasadena at the age of 43.
Table 1. Taxonomic Composition of the UCLA-Dickey Bird and Mammal Collections.
|Collection||Order||# Families||# Specimens|
The UCLA Donald R. Dickey Bird and Mammal Collection, containing approximately 64,000 specimens, is one of the largest maintained by a university in California. We are second only in size to UC Berkeley's Museum of Vertebrate Zoology. Our geographic strengths include western North America and Middle America, with major series from Mexico, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Costa Rica (Fig. 2). Study skins and osteological material are the predominant preparations.
The avian collection includes representatives of every order and 75% of the families; the mammal collection is less comprehensive, spanning 35% of the orders and 40% of all families (Table 1). The collection has significant systematic and taxonomic value in that it contains over 200 holotypes, including 183 bird and 48 mammal taxa, respectively. In addition, the bird collection houses large numbers of specimens from many now-degraded habitats in Mexico and northern Central America, including a significant series of passerine birds inhabiting the lowland pine savannas of northeastern Nicaragua taken from the 1950s through the 1970s. It also contains a small but important series of an endemic seabird, the Tristram's Storm-Petrel (Oceanodroma tristrami), and endemic land birds from the Hawaiian Islands, including the Laysan Finch (Telespiza cantans), and the Millerbird (Acrocephalus familiaris) as well as the extinct Laysan Rail (Porzana palmeri), and Hawaii Oo (Moho nobilis). We also house a small but important series of the extinct Passenger Pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius) from the late 1870s and several California Condors (Gymnogyps californianus) from the very early 1900s
The strengths of the UCLA-Dickey Mammal Collection are exemplified by its significant representation of fauna from the Channel Islands of California including the island spotted skunk (Spilogale gracilis amphiala), island fox (Urocyon littoralis), and numerous subspecies of the deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus). It similarly houses important series of a variety of small rodents from the Midriff Islands in the Gulf of California, Mexico. Moreover, it has an associated library currently within the History and Special Collections Division of the UCLA Louise Darling Biomedical Library that contains approximately 10,000 books, 8,000 photographs, and a synopsis of the Donald Ryder Dickey Papers (http://unitproj.library.ucla.edu/biomed/dickey/)
To access the holdings of the UCLA-Dickey Bird Collection (plus those for over 40 other major ornithology collections) please visit OrnIS - Ornithological Information System for bird specimen records http://olla.berkeley.edu/ornisnet
To access our mammal holdings please visit MaNIS - Mammal Networked Information http://manisnet.org
Those interested in using the collections for research purposes are invited to contact the Collections Manger:
Kathy C. Molina
Department of Organismic Biology, Ecology & Evolution
University of California, Los Angeles
621 Charles Young Dr. South
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1606
Phone: (310) 825-1282
Fax: (310) 206 3987