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Ornithology: Home

Purpose of this guide

This guide is intended for students and researchers studying ornithology at the University of Oxford, although researchers from biology and zoology may find it useful.

Use this guide to find out about books and online resources for ornithology, including ebooks, ejournals and bibliographic databases.

Finding books for ornithology

Oxford has a wide range of print and ebooks, including the Alexander Library of Ornithology collection and the main science collections in the Radcliffe Science Library.  For more detailed info about our book collections visit our Books page in this guide.

Key journals

Many journals, as well as being available in print, are available online and can be searched via SOLO or eJournals A-Z. Below are a few of the top journals for ornithology but you can find more information on the Journals page in this guide.

Key databases

Oxford subscribes to many bibliographic databases. They can be used to locate journal articles, conference proceedings, books, patents, images, data and more. You can find some of the key databases for ornithology below, but take a look at the databases page in this guide for more information.


Principal collection:

The Alexander Library of Ornithology library service is based in the Radcliffe Science Library. It is one of the foremost ornithological reference collections in the world, containing extensive collections of 19th, 20th and 21st century books, pamphlets and periodicals, and an archive of ornithological notebooks and diaries. It is an international resource with the collections covering ornithology, natural history, conservation, ecology and behaviour.

  • Book, journal and grey literature collections are held in the offsite Book Storage Facility (BSF) and are available to order via SOLO to Bodleian Libraries reading rooms. These must be ordered up in advance of visiting.
  • Archives and rare books have relocated to the Bodleian's Weston Library.  Please contact to book an appointment.

Associated collections:

History of the Alexander Library

Founded in the 1930's on the personal collections of Wilfrid Backhouse Alexander, the Alexander Library was originally housed at 91 Banbury Road and later moved into the Zoology Department in the Tinbergen Building. W.B. Alexander was the first Director of the Oxford Bird Census (the predecessor of the Edward Grey Institute of Field Ornithology) and on his retirement in 1945 he became the first Librarian, holding the position until 1955. The Library was named in his honour in 1947. The Library moved into the Radcliffe Science Library in 2017 and is now stored offsite.

Today, much of the material within the collections is received via donation or through exchange schemes. The library enjoys a close relationship with the British Ornithologists' Union and books which have been reviewed within its journal, The Ibis, are subsequently deposited in the Alexander Library.

Alexander & Ornithology Subject Librarian

Need Help?

For ornithology subject enquiries please contact Sophie Wilcox:

For other subject enquiries and for general information about Oxford's science libraries please check the Science Libraries LibGuide.

Related guides

Key libraries

Radcliffe Science Library

  • Alexander Library of Ornithology

This is the principal ornithology collection and is held offsite. Material can be ordered via SOLO and consulted at the Radcliffe Science Library. Rare books and archives can be consulted at the Special Collections Reading Room in the Bodleian's Weston Library.