Auckland Museum has over 300 bird wings in its collection and now with digital photography we are allowing the public to learn more about this exquisitely complex piece of avian anatomy and how it relates to a bird’s lifestyle, air-miles and feeding habits.
The Museum holds wings from 123 bird species, after emeritus land vertebrates curator Dr Brian Gill began collecting bird wings in the 1980s for the study of bird moult.
Since then, the bird wing collection has attracted hundreds of scientists, researchers, children and artists looking to answer questions about the morphology, feather make-up, shape and structure of bird wings.
The requests we get from the public are almost as varied as the birds themselves. On any one day, you’ll have artists using the bird wings as a reference for a painting; students looking at bird moult or scientists measuring the wing-shapes of birds with differing lifestyles.
By studying the structure, size and feather-make-up of a bird wing, researchers can find out why an albatross can soar motionlessly for days while a little fantail needs to flap furiously to keep aloft.