American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos). Photo © Arlene Koziol. Read more about Things seen in the Bird Division #9 (or: The fish that killed a pelican)
Museums such as the Field are deeply involved with describing and understanding the natural world. Hybrids can confuse that understanding, even to the point that they get described as new species. Many hybrids have English names that reflect that history, like Brewer's Duck (Gadwall x Mallard) and Brewster's and Lawrence's Warblers (variations of Golden-winged x Blue-winged Warbler hyrbids). Read more about Who's your daddy? A hybird duck in Glenview
Working at the Field Museum, I get to see some pretty special things. Whether it's because of rarity, antiquity, or something that's just plain weird, the museum provides surprises in abundance. Today was one of those days where routine gave way to surprise when Dylan Lott, a graduate student in Anthropology at the University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC), showed up needing help identifying feathers. These weren't just any feathers, they were feathers attached to incredible artifacts that a UIC professor had collected from an Amazonian tribe called the Parintintin in the late 1960s. Read more about What are the feathers in those Amazonian headdresses?