The AOU Collections Committee works closely with the Ornithological Council to provide input on a variety of permit issues, including:

The Committee encourages North American researchers to solicit assistance from us or the Ornithological Council on permit-related issues or problems.

To facilitate international research collaboration and exchange of specimens, the Committee encourages foreign institutions to register with their national CITES Management Authority if their country is a party to CITES. Registration will enable institutions to obtain a Certificate of Scientific Exchange pursuant to Article VII (paragraph 6) of the Convention.

Permit Links

Valuable information on permits and permitting is posted on the Ornithological Council's Permits page. This includes an important new guide (PDF) for import/export of bird specimens and bird products, which was compiled by Ellen Paul in consultation with USFWS and USDA officials as well as museum curators. Anyone who plans to import or export scientific specimens or their parts should consult this guide for regulatory procedures.


The AOU has published several surveys on bird collections, including:

The world inventories of avian skeletal and spirit specimens (PDF) are available through the Field Museum of Natural History.

A tissue collection survey of North American and foreign institutions includes general information on specimen collections, contacts, and tissue holdings (for more information on the tissue survey, see the AOU Tissue Collections page). We encourage additional institutions to complete the survey form, even if they do not maintain a tissue collection (Questions 1 through 5). Lists of museum research collections of birds also are provided by AVECOL and BIRDNET.

A survey of Neotropical Ornithology Collections (DOC), sorted by country, includes information on institutional name, location, web address, and number of specimens. This survey was compiled in 2005 and includes 107 institutions.

Biodiversity Informatics

Members of the AOU Collections Committee (A. Town Peterson, Carla Cicero) are Principal Investigators on a community-wide effort to develop an ORNithological Information System for North American bird collections. This is a 5-year project (2004-2009) funded by the National Science Foundation that involves over 30 museums in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.