Plumage Puzzle – a Bird Specimen Challenge!

We’re launching a new collections challenge on social media this week! Natural Science Curator Clare Brown reveals more…

Do you know a magpie from a macaw? Test your birdy knowledge with #PlumagePuzzle!

One of the most recent bird acquisitions to Leeds Museums: a Firecrest!

Leeds Museums and Galleries has a beautiful collection of birds from across the world. They were recently subjected to a project called ‘Skin Deep’ at the museum. The birds were rehoused, databased and photographed. They were also used for an art photography project to produce a single rainbow image using their plumage.

Sara Porter of Sara Porter Photography took detailed photos of a range of birds and then produced the piece. It was finally hung on the end of the rack where the bird collection is stored and looks fabulous.

The bird collection rack at Leeds Discovery Centre, the museum store.

It means that we now have some lovely close-ups of the plumage in our collection, so why not use them to set a challenge? Just how good are you at identifying birds from their feathers? Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are our platforms – we’ll post the plumage image and then the answer a few hours later.

I’ve got to confess I can only do a few of them – this is a really tricky task as you have no context and no details on the size of the bird. Good luck!

Leeds has been collecting biology for almost 200 years. We have a collection of about 5,000 birds, the earliest records dating to the mid 1800s. As a 19th century industrial and scientific powerhouse, Leeds had patrons acquiring specimens from across the world.

The docks of Hull and Liverpool bowed under the weight of specimens coming back from Britain’s far flung adventurers. Nowadays we are still collecting but we only take specimens that have died accidentally (by cat, car or window for example). Our most recent bird acquisition was a pair of tiny Firecrests.

By Clare Brown, Curator of Natural Science.

Have a go at guessing #PlumagePuzzle on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram – we’ll be running a new one every Friday over the next few weeks.

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