Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology – Camarillo, California - Atlas Obscura

Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology

Over one million bird-related artifacts await. 


Nestled in an industrial area of Camarillo, California, is one of the world’s largest collections of all things avian.

Though its name suggests the study of any creature with a backbone, the Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology is all about birds. Researchers study its gigantic collection of mounted specimens, nests, and eggs. And as part of its mission to promote bird knowledge and conservation, the center is also open for academics, artists, and curious civilians alike.

A walk through the foundation’s collection is well worth the $5 admission, though it may be a bit eerie for some. The place is still and quiet, like a library packed with thousands of stuffed, dead birds frozen in nearly every position imaginable. Some creatures are shown preening their features, some nest beneath their wings, and some are, of course, suspended in flight. Perhaps most unnerving are the specimens that sit perched atop branches, seeming to watch with unblinking glass eyes as you learn about their still-living brethren.

Know Before You Go

The Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology can be visited by non-researchers on monthly open house days throughout the year, by appointment, or during Audubon Society meetings.

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