The scientific value of avian research specimens is immense, but the accumulation rate of this resource is too low to meet either present or future needs. This may be due, in part, to the fact that few students are currently being taught to prepare specimens. Modern specimen preparation is a routine but detailed and meticulous process in which comparatively few are expert. I summarize methods for obtaining bird specimens and preserving them both for the short term and for the long term as high quality scientific research specimens. The preparation method outlined preserves skin, partial skeleton, stomach contents and two duplicate tissue samples for every specimen, maximizing the scientific usefulness of each bird. The resulting skins and skeletons augment current samples, simultaneously increasing the sample sizes available for studies involving either type of specimen. These methods allow a diverse array of data to be taken from every individual, and are thus suitable for general preparation or focused, single-species research projects. These archival quality methods assure that, if prepared as outlined, the skin and skeleton specimens possess a useful life of half a millennium or more. I suggest that this is an unparalleled opportunity to make a personal, signed, long-term contribution to science with relatively little time investment.
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Vol. 71 • No. 2