Our new plastic monitoring project with the Nunatsiavut Government includes sampling feathers from birds in Nunatsaivut for contaminant analysis. In addition to gathering bird guts, here’s how to gather feathers:

Getting the feathers

Pluck between 6-8 whole feathers from the centre of the bird’s breast/belly. More is ok too if they all come out in a clump. No need to wear gloves or anything, and it can be done in the field, in the lab, at the freezer… anywhere. We’ll wash them before any analysis so they can get dirty.

Storing the feathers

Put all the feathers from an individual bird in an envelope or plastic bag that seals shut. Each bird’s feathers should be stored separately (so one bird = one bag/envelope).

Once packaged up, they can be stored somewhere safe – the easiest is probably to put all the feather bags/envelopes in a big bag in the cooler with the guts.

Labeling the feathers

We need to be able to link it back to the guts, so whatever unique ID should be common across those samples.

Record the species (Inuktitut, local, English, scientific name… all good), the sex (if you know it, otherwise that’s fine), the date, and the location of where the bird was shot. If the feathers are in an envelope, write on the outside of the envelope. If they’re stored in a plastic bag, then write on a piece of paper and put it in with the feathers (normal paper is OK).

Any questions?

Contact Alex Bond at a.bond@nhm.ac.uk, email the CLEAR team at CLEARlab@mun.ca, or talk to Liz Pijogge or Joseph Onalik in Nain.