Wildlife Damage Management, Internet Center for


Date of this Version

Fall 2009


Published in Human–Wildlife Conflicts 3(2):179–185, Fall 2009. Published and copyright (where applicable) by Jack H. Berryman Institute http://www.berrymaninstitute.org/journal/index.html


On March 4, 2008, a Cessna Citation 1 (Model 500) crashed in a wooded area near Wiley Post Airport, Oklahoma, killing all 5 people on board. This paper describes the detailed forensic methods and expertise used by the Smithsonian Institution’s Feather Identification Lab to identify the bird that caused this bird-strike incident. We used standard methods of whole-feather analysis, microscopic examination, and DNA barcoding in this case to identify American white pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) as the bird species involved in this fatal crash. We also report the importance of proper field investigation and evidence collection for accurate results, particularly for this case, and generally for all bird-strike identifications.