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Oct. 12, 2010

Dream Job: Forensic Ornithologist

by Leslie Taylor


Video by SmithsonianVideos

In this video, Carla Dove, an (aptly named) forensic ornithologist at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, talks about her work at the Smithsonian's Feather Identification Lab and its role in improving aviation safety.

At the Feather Identification lab, forensic ornithologists use microscopes, genetic methods, and the museum's vast specimen collection to identify birds from fragments or small pieces of feather. Most of the fragments they analyze have been recovered after a bird strike -- which occurs when a bird and an airplane collide. The forensic ornithologists identify the species of bird involved in a given bird strike then pass that information on to the FAA and airfield managers who use it to put safety procedures in place to minimize future bird strikes.

Dr. Dove explains the importance of her work:

Most of us fly. We want to fly safely, have a safe take off, and a safe landing. Avoiding bird strikes is a big part of that.

Read more at the National Museum of Natural History Web site

About Leslie Taylor

Leslie is Science Friday’s Web editor. She has a background in oceanography and is passionate about getting non-scientists and young people to realize how cool science can be.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Science Friday.

Science Friday® is produced by the Science Friday Initiative, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

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