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Carla Dove – Smithsonian Institution Forensic Ornithologist


Posted on April 9th

Carla Dove – Smithsonian Institution Forensic Ornithologist

Carla Dove is the program manager of the Feather Identification Lab in the Division of Birds, National Museum of Natural History.  The Air Line Industry uses her services to analyze causes of plane crashes involving birds.  For instance, what kind of bird brought down the American Air Lines Boeing passenger jet that crash landed in the Hudson River minutes after taking off from JFK?  Was it a 3 lb bird or 6 lb?  It turned out to be a 6 lb bird migrating from Canada. The Boeing Jet could handle a 3 lb bird in both engines but not a larger bird.  Carla’s current research involves establishing techniques in a newly developing field within ornithology which applies forensic methodologies to determine species of birds from fragmentary evidence.  The most important application of  this work is to aviation safety, where bird identification data is used to design safer engines and windscreens, predict bird movements, and improve bird habitat management around airfields.




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