Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Forensic Ornithology – Bird Detective


  • Title: Forensic Ornithology – Bird Detective
  • Air Date: February 12, 2014
  • Series: Smithsonian Science How webcasts, which are designed to connect natural history science and research to upper-elementary and middle-school students.

This video features Dr. Carla Dove, an Ornithologist at the National Museum of Natural History. Join her in analyzing the remains of birds from airplane strikes and other events. See how she and her team use various types of evidence to identify the birds. Marvel at how modern techniques such as DNA barcoding can complement old-fashioned comparisons of feathers. Consider what bird remains tell you about populations of birds over time. Learn how Carla and her team are making your flights safer while also improving management of natural populations of birds.

Teaching Resources

Forensic Science of Bird Strikes

National Middle School Standards

Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

Earth Science

MS-ESS3 Earth and Human Activity

  • MS-ESS3-3: Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment.

Life Science

MS-LS2 Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics

  • MS-LS2-2: Construct an explanation that predicts patterns of interactions among organisms across multiple ecosystems.
  • MS-LS2-5: Evaluate competing design solutions for maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Engineering Design

MS-ETS1 Engineering Design

  • MS-ETS1-1: Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions.
  • MS-ETS1-2: Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
  • MS-ETS1-3: Analyze data from tests to determine similarities and differences among several design solutions to identify the best characteristics of each that can be combined into a new solution to better meet the criteria for success.
Resource Type
Videos and Webcasts
Grade Level
Learning Standards
Next Generation Science Standards
Engineering and Technology, Life Science