Feb 212024

Chambers St, Edinburgh EH1 1JF 

Modern sandstone building on a busy street corner under a blue sky.
The National Museum of Scotland
Wikimedia Commons

The National Museum of Scotland hosts a collection of birds donated by two of Scotland’s pioneering ornithologists, Evelyn V. Baxter (1879-1959) and Leonora J. Rintoul (1878-1953). Many birds in the collection come from research and observations around Edinburgh and the Fife coast, with some sites located within this tour such as the Isle of May. Collecting bird specimens was essential in the mid-18th to mid-20th to advance knowledge on avian diversity and differentiate one species of bird from another. Today the collection of around 1,200 bird skins donated to the museum by Baxter and Rintoul is still used for comparative studies.

Black and white photo of a woman with short hair wearing a plaid blazer and jewelry.
Dr. Evelyn Baxter
©Scottish Orinthologists’ Club, National Museum of Scotland
Black and white photo of a woman with short hair wearing a striped blazer and a brooch.
Dr. Leonora Rintoul
©Scottish Orinthologists’ Club, National Museum of Scotland

The two ornithologists are considered pioneers in Scotland as they were honorary members of the British Ornithological Union (BOU), founding members of the Scottish Ornithologists’ Club in 1948, novel researchers on the migration of birds, and publishers of a book still considered today as a reference: The Birds of Scotland, their History, Distribution and Migration (1953). 

Brown bird specimen sample laying on its back identified with tan, handwritten tags.
A bird from the Baxter and Rintoul collection at the National Museum of Scotland
©National Museum of Scotland


National Museum of Scotland Website; The Scottish Ornithologists’ Club Website; Scottish Seabird Centre (‘Celebrating Women in Science’)

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