Newton's Birds

Audubon Arkansas finds new homes for a century old collection

Bird Specimens
Twenty-five boxes of round skins like these were donated to Audubon Arkansas. Photo: Dan Scheiman

On April 28, 2017, Audubon Arkansas accepted a donated bird specimen collection from Dean Newton with the promise to find them all good homes in teaching and research collections. Dean’s late father, Earl T. Newton, Jr., was a birder and Audubon chapter member. In his 20s he collected round skins (stuffed with cotton), buying and likely trading birds that were legally collected before the International Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 (the year Earl was born). During his lifetime he had previously donated birds to Audubon Society of Central Arkansas and Pinnacle Mountain State Park. When Dean showed up at Audubon Arkansas unannounced we were awed by what he showed us – boxes of 100+ year-old birds from around the US and the world! He donated 25 boxes containing 200 round skins, which I catalogued with help from Nancy Deckard and Jeremy Chamberlain so my fellow ornithologists could decide what they want. They’ll be protected for posterity in collections at University of Central Arkansas, Arkansas State University, Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center, Pinnacle Mountain State Park and elsewhere. The wide diversity of breath-taking birds makes it hard to pick highlights, but they include: Capercaillie, Pheasant Coucal, Glossy Ibis, Arctic Loon, Himalayan Monal, Golden Pheasant, Willow Ptarmigan, Smew, Himalayan Snowcock, Cinnamon Teal, and Red-billed Tropicbird. Mr. Newton had a good eye for birds.

Arctic Loon & White-faced Ibis
An Arctic Loon and a White-faced Ibis were among the many surprises inside boxes that had not been opened for 40 years. Photo: Dan Scheiman

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