More than 900 of the mounted birds were prepared by the Belfast taxidermy firm Sheals, established in 1856 by James Sheals who was later joined in the family business by his two sons, Alfred and Thomas. The Sheals family produced some of the finest mounted birds and mammals in the world at that time.
The collection includes a number of mounted birds collected in the early 1800s by the famous Irish naturalist, William Thompson. Many of the birds are first recorded Irish specimens of American vagrant species, that is, species found well outside their normal home environment.
The bird collection contains around 4,000 mounted birds, 2,000 cabinet skins and over 5,000 clutches of birds’ eggs. Most of the specimens are from Britain and Ireland.