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H.L. White Collection of Australian Birds’ Eggs

Henry Luke White’s (1860–1927) collection of Australian birds’ eggs remains the finest of its type, with most native bird species represented. The collection contains 4200 clutches, totalling 13 000 eggs.

White was a wealthy pastoralist who lived at Belltrees near Scone, New South Wales. His passion for collecting Australian birds’ eggs began as a boyhood hobby and continued throughout his life. Between 1907 and 1909, White significantly increased his own collection by purchasing others from friends Sidney Jackson and Dudley Le Souef. From about 1904, he employed field collectors to travel throughout Australia collecting birds’ eggs and bird skins.

In 1917, he donated his collection of 8850 study-skins to the museum to be used by members of the Royal Australasian Ornithologists’ Union, a club based in Melbourne. The collection was at one stage intended to go to the Australian Museum in Sydney, but White had a personal antipathy to the then curator of birds, Alfred North.

The White collection is significant for its coverage of species, its displays of egg variation and for the data on breeding biology associated with each collection. One extinct species of Australian bird is represented – the Paradise Parrot, collected in 1896 from Queensland.

H.L. White Egg Collection
 H.L. White Egg Collection

 H.L. White Egg Collection

 H.L. White Egg Collection

 H.L. White Egg Collection
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H.L. White Egg Collection in custom made Queensland maple cabinet Image source: Museum Victoria

© Museum Victoria Australia