Rose-breasted Grosbeak - Pheucticus ludovicianus

August 15, 2011



My apologies if this is a bit too morbid to go with your Monday morning cup of coffee, but I thought I would show you what I do when I volunteer at the Field Museum. Yes, this beautiful, male P. ludovicianus is dead. He was a window kill. A volunteer found him near a downtown building, and he was brought to the museum to be made in to a study skin. That's where I come in. He died in May of this year, and has been sitting in a museum freezer until last week. He'd been catalogued, weighed and measured, but needed to be turned in to a study skin. I went in last Thursday, and Dave Willard ( bird collections manager) removed him from the freezer to thaw. It took me roughly 1.5 hours to remove all his viscera and stuff him with cotton. I also have to measure his gonads and take a tissue sample. After he's been cleaned and sewn back up, then (as you can see in the photo above) the specimen is pinned out to dry for a week or two before going in to the collections. He'll rest in the collections with others of his kind, until needed for research. Sad, I know, but at least this way we can maybe find something out that will help reduce the number of window kills annually. I'll talk a bit about the species in depth in a following post.

5 comments:

  1. It is unbelievably beautiful. I don't find study skins morbid at all. I'd love to be able to see the bird collections at the Field someday. Nice prep work Diana.

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  2. Thank you for sharing this, Diana. I don't find it morbid, either, I think it's fascinating.

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  3. You do such a interesting work! thank you for sharing it and it isn´t morbid at all!

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  4. I did rescue and recovery downtown the last few seasons. I wonder if I picked up this unfortunate beauty. While it was incredibly sad to pick up the "recovery" birds, it was always comforting to think they would have another life in research.

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  5. At one point I thought I would like to do rescue and recovery downtown as well, but didn't think I could handle the sadness of finding dead or injured birds, so here I am on this end of operations. It's so great, though, that there are so many dedicated volunteers doing that important work.

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