Visitor to the VMNH Bird Collection
The VMNH Bird Collection recently hosted a Mary Baldwin College student who is studying two species of birds for his senior research project. Biology major Randy Welch is investigating color variation in the American Kestrel and the Great Horned Owl. He’s researching color patterns in each species and comparing variation between these birds, in context of differences in their behavior. Both are birds that feed on other animals, but kestrels are active during the day, while great-horned owls usually hunt at night.
Mary Baldwin College student Randy Welch examines VMNH bird specimens for senior research project.
Welch spent two full days at VMNH, examining 45 kestrels and 52 owls. For each specimen, he documented feather color (reflectance) using a spectrophotometer at three different places on the back and three places on the underside of the bird. Below are photos of Welch as he examined a kestrel. He turned off the fluorescent lights in the collection room because they interfered with the spectrophotometric readings.
Welch examines a kestrel in the VMNH collections.