The feather identification lab’s goal is to identify bird remains to the most accurate taxonomic level.
Being the only feather identification lab in the region, we successfully identify bird remains for the Israeli Air Force, the Israel Airports Authority, the Civil Aviation Authority and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority. Bird remains identification is crucial for minimizing bird strike events and the possible risk of casualties and damage to airplanes. The bird remains we receive usually include feathers or feather fragments, collected on or around airplanes from military bases and civil airports. We also receive bird remains from the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, collected during ecological surveys and from suspected poachers.
The lab uses a combination of methods:
- Morphological comparison of whole feathers using the Museum’s Avian collection (> 22,000 specimens).
- Inspection of specific feather microstructure features, which are characteristic of bird orders, families and even species. A feather fragment under a microscope can sometimes quite easily solve the case.
- Genetic analyses, performed at the museum’s molecular laboratory, complement our morphological identifications.
We hope to expand our activities in the future and establish working relations with additional institutes and collaborators from around the world.
Avigail Ben-Dov Segal