Project Plumage

At a glance

Mark up colourful Museum bird specimens

Type of activity: Online

Who can take part? Everyone

When? Any time

How long will it take? Two minutes per bird

Help us to study the amazing array of colour across all living bird species and how such diversity evolved, by marking up photos of birds from the Museum’s collections.

Why we are doing the project

With approximately 10,000 living species, birds have evolved an extraordinary array of plumage (feather) colours. Beyond the colour we can see, we also know that the plumage of many bird species reflects light in the ultraviolet (UV) range. As birds themselves can see UV light, this has a big impact on our understanding of how birds see each other.

We want to both measure and better understand how this colour diversity has come to be.

Our team is photographing Museum specimens using special colour and UV filters. With your help we will be able to extract the colour information needed to answer key questions about bird colour evolution.

How to take part

1. Visit Project Plumage on the website

2. (Optional) Register as a member of Zooniverse to track your efforts

3. Follow the instructions to tag patches of colour on specimen photographs

Project team

Our research is based between the University of Sheffield and the Museum’s bird collections.

It is part of a European Research Council (ERC) funded project.

All the help you need to become a digital volunteer and contribute to this study is available online, at the Project Plumage Zooniverse website below.