|Hawfinch (Coccothraustes coccothraustes)|
Today we acquired a new specimen! Pictured above it is the skin of a Hawfinch and one of their most notable features is their large powerful beak which is used to eat hard seeds and stones of fruit such as cherries, plums and olives. Hawfinches are shy birds that mostly stay in the higher branches of trees and their numbers are on decline in the UK.
We have 18 Hawfinch specimens, but even though they are all the same species they have individual information attached to them providing details of the environment of the area that they were found. For instance, you would know that it wasn't moorland, as these birds need trees with hard seeds as part of their habitat. If a specimen was collected 100 years ago in a particular place and that species is no longer found there then that signifies that the environment has changed. This information can be valuable when looking at conservation, reintroductions and environmental education.
Collecting is different to how it used to be. In the past things were shot or caught in traps but when accepting modern specimens we will only acquire things that have died of natural causes from trusted reliable sources. If a big game hunter offered us a lion we wouldn't take it!