Decanting the birds gallery

Figure 1: I produced a list and photos of all the birds in each case so we could tick them off once they’d been done.

This week and last I’ve been helping out with decanting the birds and other zoological specimens from the second floor gallery.  This is in readiness for the new ‘Nature’s Library’ gallery which is due to open in April.

It’s been great to gain an insight into this process and to be able to lend a helping hand to Kate and the conservation team as they go about this task.

The first thing wing that we had to do was lift out anything that was pest free.  This included shells, clean skeletons, and eggs.  These can then go straight back into the stores.  The only problem is finding out where to put them as they’ve been out for so long!

Figure 2: Things like these guillemot eggs could go straight back into store.

The next thing we did was package the birds that were undergoing the thermo-lignum heat and nitrogen treatment (to eliminate pests) in boxes so that they were nearly ready to load into the special van where this process would take place.

Figure 3: The birds were labelled and laid out in boxes ready for the pest treatment.

Figure 4: The birds being loaded into the van by the conservation team.

However, there is a small chance that the thermo-lignum process could damage DNA and potentially jeopardise future research on the collection.  Therefore we removed rare and particularly interesting birds and put them to one side.  These will undergo being frozen for three days at -20°C which is less likely to damage DNA.

Figure 5: Some birds, like these birds of prey, were too rare amd valuable to risk the thermo-lignum treatment.

Figure 6: The birds to go in the freezer were ‘double-bagged’ and securely wrapped up to prevent moisture freezing inside the bags and damaging them.

Once the birds that are undergoing the thermo-lignum treatment have been in the van for 24 hours they will be lifted out.  Some will go back into the collection, yet some will form an exciting chapter of the new Nature’s Library gallery.

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About Trainee Curator

I will be writing a blog about the next twelve months spent as a trainee biological curator based at Manchester Museum.
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