Roxie Laybourne and Carla Dove Holding Black Vulture Remains

image for Roxie Laybourne and Carla Dove Holding Black Vulture Remains
Historic Images of the Smithsonian
With Smithsonian Secretary Alexander Wetmore's encouragement, Laybourne accepted a short-term appointment in 1944 in the Bird Division at the National Museum of Natural History, working with taxidermist Watson Perrygo and curator Herbert Friedmann. Known as the "Feather Lady," Laybourne pioneered the field of forensic ornithology at the Smithsonian Institution by studying the detailed microscopic structure of plumaceous (downy) feather barbules and creating a technique of identifying species of birds from fragmentary feather samples. Her methods revolutionized aviation safety by creating a technique of identifying birds involved in aircraft bird strikes. That work led to the development of the first laboratory in the world dedicated solely to feather identification. The methods she developed are now routinely applied to studies of prey remains, evidence from criminal cases, and anthropological artifacts.
For more images of Roxie Laybourne, see SIA2009-2205, SIA2010-0575, SIA2010-0580, SIA2010-0639, SIA2014-07398, SIA2014-07403, SIA2014-07404, SIA2014-07405, SIA2014-07406, SIA2014-07407, SIA2014-07411, SIA2014-07413, SIA2014-07417, SIA2014-07421, SIA2014-07431, SIA2014-07434, SIA2014-07441, SIA2014-07442, and SIA2014-07448.
Roxie Laybourne (left) and Carla Dove (right) stand behind a counter in the Bird Division of the National Museum of Natural History. Carla Dove is holding a study skin of a black vulture while Roxie Laybourne holds a feather near the breast of the bird. On the counter in front of them are boxes of feathers and bird remains, a letter, a black wing, and a stack of open envelopes.
Contained within
Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 04-086, Box 2, Folder 5
Contact information
Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20024-2520,
Forensic sciences
Aircraft bird strikes
Smithsonian Institution--Employees
Zoological specimens--Collection and preservation
Smithsonian Archives - History Div
Restrictions & Rights
No restrictions
Laybourne, Roxie C. 1910-2003
Dove, Carla J
National Museum of Natural History (U.S.) Division of Birds
Physical description
Number of Images: 1; Color: Color; Size: 6w x 4h; Type of Image: Group, candid; Medium: Photographic print
September 1996
Photographic print
Group, candid
Standard number