Historical information

This particular species is native to Australia and can be located throughout the mainland, preferably in the south-western interior. It is known for its distinctively upturned bill, the males of this species have a slightly more upturn to their bill than the female. This style of bill is unusual among birds and is used to assist them forage in the water of shallow wetlands. These birds feed on aquatic insects, crustaceans and seeds. The name of this species is derived from the distinctive chestnut brown/red colouring of the head and neck. Interestingly, the call of this bird has been described as a "yapping" sound which is similar to the sound of dogs barking when performed by a flock in flight.

This specimen is part of a collection of almost 200 animal specimens that were originally acquired as skins from various institutions across Australia, including the Australian Museum in Sydney and the National Museum of Victoria (known as Museums Victoria since 1983), as well as individuals such as amateur anthropologist Reynell Eveleigh Johns between 1860-1880. These skins were then mounted by members of the Burke Museum Committee and put-on display in the formal space of the Museum’s original exhibition hall where they continue to be on display. This display of taxidermy mounts initially served to instruct visitors to the Burke Museum of the natural world around them, today it serves as an insight into the collecting habits of the 19th century.


This specimen is part of a significant and rare taxidermy mount collection in the Burke Museum. This collection is scientifically and culturally important for reminding us of how science continues to shape our understanding of the modern world. They demonstrate a capacity to hold evidence of how Australia’s fauna history existed in the past and are potentially important for future environmental research.

This collection continues to be on display in the Museum and has become a key part to interpreting the collecting habits of the 19th century.

Physical description

This Red Necked Avocat specimen is stylized in a standing position upon a wooden platform. There is a pale brown identification tag tied around its left leg. The bird has long pale grey coloured legs and a characteristic long, thin and black upturned bill. The plumage of this species is largely white. It has a chestnut brown/red coloured head which is where this species gets its name. The wings are white with black tips.

Inscriptions & markings

24c. /
Avocat /
Catalogue, page, 36. /