Bird Jacket: Sahas Barve

Shashank Dalvi
February 15, 2021
Media Photo/Video

Photos for News Media Use Only

Addthis Share Tools

Man works at a microscope with bird specimen
Shashank Dalvi

Sahas Barve, a Peter Buck Fellow at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, studying the museum’s bird collection under a microscope.

Barve and his co-authors used a microscope to take photos of the chest feathers of 1,715 specimens from the Smithsonian’s collections representing 249 species from the cold, high-altitude Himalayan Mountains.

Barve led a new study to examine feathers across 249 species of Himalayan songbirds, finding that birds living at higher elevations have more of the fluffy down—the type of feathers humans stuff their jackets with—than birds from lower elevations. Published on Feb. 15 in the journal Ecography, the study also finds that smaller-bodied birds, which lose heat faster than larger birds, tend to have longer feathers in proportion to their body size and thus a thicker layer of insulation.

Download (2.26 MB)