National Museum of Natural History (U.S.) Division of Birds Search this
United States National Museum Dept. of Biology Division of Birds Search this
Number of Images: 1; Color: Black and white; Size: 8w x 10h; Type of Image: Person, candid; Medium: Photographic print
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 sits at a table with collection of songbird skins on it. She is wearing a striped suit and is holding a skin and a caliper in her hands, measuring one of the bird's head.
Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 04-086, Box 2, Folder 5