Bird Department Launches “Carcass Club”

The DelMNS Bird Department has recently started a “carcass club” with wildlife ecology and environmental science student volunteers from the University of Delaware. In the group, students facilitate the preparation of new specimens for the scientific collection. Ever since its inception, the museum has salvaged “window-strikes” and other recently-deceased birds, to save their bodies for scientific use.

Once a week, the club gathers at the museum to prepare study skins (a specialized form of taxidermy) and spread wings for the collections, while also receiving training from the collections staff. Students will have the opportunity to learn other preparation types, such as skeletons, later in the year. Specimens vouchered in the museum are an important resource for monitoring the long-term health of local ecosystems, and researchers from around the world will have access to these specimens and their data.

Study skins are used for morphometrics (measuring and analyzing the shape and size of specimens), biodiversity, and genetics research in addition to identification.

It’s a messy job, but someone has to do it!

Wooden dowels provide structural support prevent specimens from flattening, and make them easier to handle.

Morphometrics including the lengths of wings, tails and beaks are measured before and after a specimen is prepared.