Michigan State University

Hours: Mon: 9am - 5pm, Tue: 9am - 8pm, Wed, Thu, and Fri: 9am - 5pm, Sat: 10am - 5pm

Birds of South Asia: History vs. Mystery

Selected book plates preview the forthcoming Birds of South Asia: The Ripley Guide, a Smithsonian Institution project, led by Pamela C. Rasmussen, Ph.D., Assistant Curator of Birds and Mammals, Michigan State University Museum. The exhibit highlights the process and pitfalls of producing a scientific yet user-friendly book that covers identification, ranges, taxonomy, and vocalizations of one of the world’s most spectacular and imperiled avifaunas.

History vs. Mystery revealed — for birds of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Chagos Islands, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Southern Tibet, Sri Lanka and West Myanmar. Illustrations depict all species and plumage variations; range maps show species distributions and seasonality. Bird vocalizations (whistles, trills, chirps, warbles, quacks, screeches) help ornithologists distinguish species, while sonograms show pitch, pattern, rhythm, and tempo; visitors can make one of their own on the interactive computer. Researchers uncover and clarify problems with the historical record relating to species misinformation, misidentification and even fraud.

A computer kiosk kas been provided to enable visitors to experience the birds of south asia just as if they were there in the jungle. Several bird calls are showcased, and a program is set up to record the different sonograms of each bird call. A sample sonogram is shown here, and dispays the rising and falling in pitch of the bird’s vocalisations.

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As MSU continues to evaluate the safety of our campus and community in response to COVID-19, we have made the decision to close the MSU Museum. Due to the rapidly changing nature of the situation, we have not determined a reopening date. We will continue to communicate updates as they become available. During this time, we will do everything we can to stay engaged with you virtually. Access virtual learning and activity resources