Mr. Booth’s (Sea)birds

The Accidental Ecologist

Gannets, juvenile and adult. Case of Mr. Booth’s bird case in the Booth Museum of Natural History.

Edward Thomas Booth was a wealthy Victorian man who was fascinated with British birds. He travelled across the UK to study and collect as many species of British birds as he could. Eventually, he built a private museum to house his huge collection of over 300 displays.

Today, this would be illegal and is quite rightly viewed as being incredibly cruel, however, this was a common pass time of the Victorian middle classes who were obsessed with collecting.

What can be gained from this?

Booth was the first in the world to display birds in their natural settings. The dioramas and his diary entries describe in incredible detail how the birds behaved and what habitats they thrived in.

Together with other Victorian collections, they have the potential to teach us what habitats were like in the past, and how populations of animals have changed over the past 150 years.


What we can find out about UK sea birds using Booth’s notes and dioramas? Find out below.

Seabird spyglass viewer

Seabird spyglass viewer
Use our spyglass viewer to take a closer look at Mr. Booth's seabird cases. The ...
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Kittiwakes at Seaford Head in a changing climate

Kittiwakes at Seaford Head in a changing climate
Edward Thomas Booth notes in his catalogue from June, 1867 that kittiwakes (Rissa tridactyla) are ...
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Seabird Gallery 

Explore more of Mr. Booth’s Seabirds in the galleries below. See if you can imagine how the birds were behaving and how they sounded to Booth when he was studying them 150 years ago.

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