Acopian Center of Ornithology

The Acopian Center for Ornithology at Muhlenberg College houses thousands of preserved bird specimens. These serve as both learning tools and historical snapshots of hundreds of distinct species.

Acopian Center for Ornithology - Theory of Connectivity

The Acopian Center for Ornithology at Muhlenberg College.

 

 

The story of Muhlenberg’s bird specimens began in 1923 with a large acquisition from a collection house in England. Today, the museum, located on the fourth floor of the New Science Building, receives additions come from window and road fatalities - animals that strike residential and commercial buildings or collide with vehicles.

Peter G. Saenger, Acopian Ornithological Specialist, guides students through the archiving and preservation process for the birds that are stored at the museum. He works closely with Daniel Klem, Acopian Professor of Ornithology and Conservation Biology at Muhlenberg. Klem has researched bird fatalities and glass structures for 35 years and is widely regarded as one of the nation’s leading experts on the subject.

The museum was made possible by a gift from its namesake, Sarkis Acopian. Acopian was a Lehigh Valley resident who believed strongly in education and conservation. In addition to funding an endowed position and supporting facilities at the museum, Acopian has backed a variety of educational ventures at various colleges and universities, as well as the Acopian Center for Conservation Learning at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary.

The preserved specimens present an opportunity beyond just anatomy and physiology courses; students from evolutionary classes and environmental sciences students study extinct species, while art majors can arrange for birds as models for sketching and painting.

And the preserved animals themselves could hold key information on climate reports, bird diet, atmospheric composition and other factors for future residents of the Lehigh Valley. This data could help serve as a historical snapshot of local life to study pollution, plant and wildlife diversity or any number of natural or artificial fluctuations in the ecosystem.

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