Former Architect and Wildlife Rehabilitator flock together to create colorful digital Feather Library

From Bairn Owl to Indian Pitta, the collaboration between Esha Munshi, a former architect and Sherwin Everett, a wildlife rehabilitator and avid bird watcher put high-resolution images of wings and feathers of at least 50 bird species along with their detailed physical measurement at Featherlibrary.com

The first-of-its-kind repository for Indian birds contains high-resolution images of wings and feathers from at least 50 species with many yet to be enlisted.Each brightly hued Spread has the details of the bird’s weight, body length, beak width, etc, along with the date, location and cause of death of that particular creature.

Launched in November last year Featherlibrary.com was established with a purpose of aiding avian research and help in the niche field of feather transplants by founder Esha Munshi, former architect, an avid birdwatcher and veterinarian Sherwin Everett, 30, who also works as a hospital curator with the Jivdaya Charitable Trust in Ahmedabad. It’s an open source library which also helps birders identify species they’ve spotted.

Idea dawned at her during lockdown when her Cat pouched at Indian silverbill and she rescued the bird. She looked for online repositories to learn more about the feather but couldn’t find one for Indian birds so she decided to build one herself.

Being a passionate twitcher herself, Munshi has spotted 1,060 of India’s 1,300-odd bird species so far. Whenever she hears the news of a rare sighting somewhere in India, she rushes there to add one more feather to her cap.

Everett proves to be a suitable partner for Munshi’s initiative. As a captive management expert, he has been working with injured birds for 10 years. One of the practices he and former clinical director Dr. Shashikant Jadhav have been working on at Jivdaya is feather implants. “It’s an old falconry practice where they use the feathers of a dead bird to replace the damaged feather of a live bird.

A collaboration with Jivdaya gives the duo access to birds at the point of extinction or waning in number  from across the region. But digitizing is the last step in the process, which begins with preparing the specimens.

Munshi and Everett are now expanding the project by adding features like X-rays (for skeletal structure) and CT scans (for muscular and organ data) of the entire specimen before it is dissected; gut data, for information on what the birds eat; and sex determination.Besides this they have also started the Feather Library Charitable Trust, through which they are applying for funding so they can set up a lab.

Globally, Featherbase is an independent database run out of Germany, and Feather Atlas is managed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

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