Bird egg collecting, crime and science

This video from Britain says about itself:

Poached (Official Trailer)

27 August 2015

Poached reveals the underworld of illegal bird egg collecting by following convicted egg offenders as they evade an army of bird lovers and wildlife crime police while beginning to realize the destructiveness of their obsession. Sign up for updates at to find out when the film will be in your area.

Poached exposes an obsession that can wipe out a species of birds: illegal egg collecting. Egg thieves rob the nests of rare birds while a United Kingdom national police initiative named “Operation Easter” tries to stop them. The thieves are motivated not by money but by desire for the beauty of the egg and the thrill of the chase. Thousands of eggs confiscated in police raids have been found strapped under beds, beneath floorboards, and in secret rooms. With unprecedented access to the most notorious and inconspicuous perpetrators, Poached delves into the psychology of the egg collectors as they confront their obsession.

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The Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA writes about this:

Poached: A Film On Eggs And Obsession

Self-destructive habits, broken relationships, and raids by the British police. No, we’re not talking about the plot of a Sherlock Holmes novel—rather, a documentary about the hobby of illegal egg collecting, still practiced by a handful of underground enthusiasts (collecting eggs was outlawed more recently in Britain, in 1954).

Obsessive specimen collection can wipe out a species, and yet this Victorian hobby still threatens modern birds in some parts of the world. This practice, motivated by neither food nor profit, is the subject of the new film Poached, a documentary that explores the addiction of illicit egg collecting in the UK. Our film review, plus the theatrical trailer, are available online.

The beauty of eggs, the thrill of the hunt…this feature illuminates a dark hobby that is both obscure and antiquated. However, an army of bird-lovers, wildlife police, and one reformed-collector-turned-citizen-scientist won’t let these “eggers” go unchallenged. The award-winning film is available on iTunes (rated PG-13).

Also from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA:

Oology is the study of bird eggs, and it has a fascinating history in the United States. In Oology and Ralph’s Talking Eggs, author Carrol Henderson describes the history of one private egg collection, and situates it within the context of the larger field of study. The book tells the story of Iowa farmer Ralph Handsaker, an amateur oologist. As the author documents the massive collection for a museum, stories are revealed about each of the 800 egg sets.

In a period when the credibility of a bird enthusiast was judged by the size of his egg collection and the number of rarities it contained, the book is at times poignant (e.g., the collection of Iowa’s last Marbled Godwit nest). However, some might call egg collecting the origins of modern bird watching, as it marked a transition from commercial interest to naturalist pursuit. Others might go so far as to deem it a precursor to citizen science, as most collections ended up in museums where they contributed to research. One thing is certain: every egg has a story to tell, and this book will have NestWatchers listening.

Donate an old egg collection!

If, like Ralph’s descendants, you find yourself with an old egg collection, consider donating it to a local museum or university, or inquire whether Cornell University’s Museum of Vertebrates can accept your collection. Although egg sets have no value on eBay (it’s illegal to sell birds, their eggs, or nests), the value of a collection is priceless to a museum.

1 thought on “Bird egg collecting, crime and science

  1. Pingback: American great crested flycatchers, photos wanted | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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