Magyarország tojásgyűjteményei / Egg collections of Hungarys

Welcome to the database of the Hungarian egg collections!

Rendek és családok
Orders and Families

Ez az oldal magyarul is elérhető.

This database elaborates the collecting data of Hungarian egg collections. At present the database contains 23,945 clutches of 333 bird species.


The database of Hungarian egg collections is the result of research and collecting efforts carried out over two centuries. The oldest literature data of a wild bird’s clutch collected in Hungary refers to a Pied avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta) egg from 1834, and the collector was Ágoston Kubinyi [33], who later became the director general of the Hungarian National Museum. From biographical data it's clear he engaged with egg collecting from as early as 1817 and, in 1826 the eggs of 102 bird species were assembled by him and his brother Ferenc Kubinyi. Unfortunately, the fate of the clutch is unresolved, most probably it disappeared.

This is a typical story for egg collections in Hungary in general, as the majority of collections assembled from the 1820's were destroyed in the turmoils of history, especially in the great wars of the 20th century, and during the uprising of 1956. At the beginning, only a single egg was taken from the clutches, but, from as early as the 1830's, the practice of collecting full clutches started to spread. Most Hungarian collections were assembled by enthusiastic amateurs searching clutches for the beauty of eggs, or fascinated by bird behaviour. Only a handful of collectors were biologists, museum curators or zoologists interested in a systematic faunal survey. The most intense era of egg collecting began at the end of the 19th century and was ended by increasingly and more restrictive nature protection regulations that banned the activity of taking clutches of wild birds in Hungary from the 1970's, as in much of Europe. The highest number of clutches (1,512) was collected in 1960. Today, only eggs coming from deserted clutches enrich our museum collections.

Although formerly unknown egg collections might surface from family holdings, the overwhelming majority of existing and known egg collections were donated to museums, universities and other public institutions by the 2010's. Generally, by now these have been studied and the results published [References]. This has made it possible to assemble this database and, by adding GPS coordinates to the collection localities, the spatial pattern of known clutches from each species could be shown on maps.

This database contains data on 23,945 clutches of 333 bird species. The majority of clutches were collected within the borders of present-day Hungary, although some come from the pre-Trianon territory of Hungary, a small fraction were either exchanged or purchased from distant locations in Europe and other continents. Some of the data presented here belongs to clutches which have been destroyed, but whose data was recovered from publications, museum index cards or inventories. They are treated here with existing clutches as these data are the only reliable source showing the presence, distribution and breeding phenology of some species that became extinct in Hungary, or whose breeding range has changed considerably.

The scientific value and use of egg collections for research is very pronounced. Precisely dated clutches are the most reliable indicators of the presence and spread of species, and such data going back to the 17th and 18th centuries cannot be obtained from other sources. The study of the structure and composition of eggshells indicate the presence and accumulation of contaminants (such as DDT) in the environment. The evolutionary ‘arms-race’ leading to egg mimicry among hosts and brood parasites can also be studied in egg collections.

More information on existing and lost egg collections are available in the references.

Latest update of the database: 26 March 2020

Recommended citation

Pereszlényi Á., Haraszthy L., Solti B., Fuisz T. I. (2019) Magyarország tojásgyűjteményei. (Egg collections of Hungary.) (doi: ???).

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