Solving Bird Mysteries with Forensic Ornithology

February 11, 2022

Listen to the Episode

Solving Bird Mysteries with Forensic Ornithology


This episode is all about forensic ornithology. This is a field where specialists use scientific techniques to identify bird species from trace evidence. Evidence like maybe a bit of feather, a bone fragment, or a smear of blood.

Forensic ornithology is used to solve intriguing wildlife crimes like smuggling and illegal hunting. But it’s also helpful in other situations that don’t involve criminal activity. We’ll get into that side of things too.

Like a murder mystery novel, today’s subject is, pretty much by definition, morbid. I’ll be talking a lot about dead birds. Blood and guts and all that. I prefer my birds very much alive, thank you, and I’m sure you do too. But, despite the gore, I think you’ll find that forensic ornithology is a fascinating topic. It’s worth learning about, to better appreciate the ways people fight to protect birds.

~~ Leave me a review using Podchaser ~~

Links of Interest


Photos of Some Species Mentioned

Dead hummingbirds sold as "love charms." They're called chuparosas in Spanish. These illegal items were confiscated by US federal agents. Public domain photo.


  • Canada Goose sounds (Xeno Canto recordings XC62259)

Errors and Corrections

  • 10:32 - I said " Law enforcement offers..." when I meant "officers."
  • 32:55 - I said "Yellow-billed Cockatoos," when I meant Yellow-crested Cockatoos

This work by Ivan Phillipsen is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Get email updates about new podcast episodes, articles, and other bird-related goodies!