Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Former birds about to contribute to science

Hopefully that title will warn folk that this post contains images of birds that are no longer with us, have passed away or joined the great majority.  In plain language:

  •  if seeing dead things upsets you, don't look further
From time to time we hear a thud as a bird tries taking a short cut through our house and finds the clear bit is somewhat solid.  Quite often (certainly a majority of times) the bird just sits on the deck feeling a bit sore for a while and then flies off.  However on a couple of occasions recently flight has not been available after the incident.

The corpses have been frozen until such time as I am intending to be in the vicinity of the Australian National Wildlife Collection who are able to use the corpses in aspects of their work.  That should happen tomorrow so the remains were removed from the freezer and photographed by Frances to assist her developing skills as an artist.  I thought it might be of interest to readers of this blog to see some aspects of the birds a bit closer than is possible when they are motile.

Specimen 1 was a Spotted Pardalote. 

This first image shows the entire bird, positioned so as to compare with the image on an iPad application of Michael Morcombe's Field Guide to Birds of Australia.  Note that one use of dead birds is to provide skins which are used by wildlife artists illustrating field guides!
This shot shows the spots on the head and the stout beak.
This is a close up of the spots on the back, bringing out some of the detail of the design of these contour feathers.
It is always pleasing to get a good sighting of these colourful little birds in the bush.  Unfortunately they are usually some distance away in the top of a tree munching on scale insects.  More spots are visible but primarily this image shows the wide range of colours in the birds lower half.

Specimen 2 was a Red-browed Finch. 
 Again here is the whole bird presented in comparison with the iPad reference.
This image shows the red of the brow and bill.  The red-brow shows it is a mature bird (and thus it should have learnt not to damage its bill by flying into windows).
This species used to be called a Red-browed Firetail.  Presumably DNA testing, and a desperate need for a thesis topic, led someone to conclude that it was merely a finch.  This shows the tail to be adequately fiery to justify the traditional name.
One of my topics for wonder when peering closely at nature through a macro-zoom lens is the intricacy of the design of parts of the subject.   These are the feet of the Finch.

No comments: