University of Michigan Museum of Zoology

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Comparing colors with spectrophotometry:

2/10/2012

An ongoing project in the Bird Division is proofreading the database against the specimen tags, correcting and adding data, and inventorying the collection. There are a number of work-study students and volunteers doing the proofreading. There have been a number of projects in recent years investigating color in our bird specimens. The frequency and intensity of the wavelengths of light reflected from the eggs, feathers or skin of birds is measured with a spectrophotometer. Thus, researchers can compare the colors of different species, or of the same species from different geographic areas. It can also show feathers that reflect ultraviolet light, which is visible to birds. The fact that many birds can see ultraviolet, and have plumage that shows uv light is a fairly recent discovery.