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Birds and Mammals

Beginning with the collection of pioneer mammalogist Frank Stephens, acquired in 1910, the Birds & Mammals Department holdings have grown into a major resource on bird and mammal species of western North America, including Baja California. Its taxonomic coverage includes 90% of the world's bird families and 58% of its mammal families, a coverage extended by the museum's status as a repository for specimens from the San Diego Zoo.

The department produced the San Diego County Bird Atlas, published in 2004 and based on field work from March 1997 through February 2002. Its companion book, The San Diego County Mammal Atlas, was published in December 2017.

The Department of Birds and Mammals is under the care of Curator Philip Unitt, a specialist in subspecies identification of California birds, author of The Birds of San Diego County, and editor of Western Birds, the regional journal of ornithology for western North America.

The Museum's collections can be searched online at


We search and we research. We are keepers of the ecological record. Meet the team. More.


Understand this place we call home. More.

Projects and News

Read what our scientists are working on. More.


The specimens in our Birds and Mammals collection document the past and inform the future. More.

Contract Services

The department offers a unique combination of resources and experience and a wide variety of services available by contract. These include personnel qualified, by both experience and permit, to collect and preserve all California birds and mammals authorized by state and federal agencies. See our complete listing of services.

The San Diego Natural History Museum's Biodiversity Research Center of the California's is pleased to acknowledge a generous gift from The San Diego Foundation-Blasker Grants Program to support the study: Managing the Effects of Wildfire on the Birds and Mammals of Southern California.