Latent Print on Feathers caused by Wild Bird Crime
Feathers are the most eye-catching part of a bird.
They serve as an insulation to birds from water and cold weather temperature, support in balance and control flight, yet certain color patterns play an important role as a camouflage making it difficult for predators below or above to see the birds.
Unfortunately, according to RSPB, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, wild bird crime is still happening due to driven grouse shooting in UK, especially in northern England and north-east Scotland. Therefore, developing latent prints from feathers to make one step forward to convict wildlife crime suspects is crucial.
But, its intricate microstructures, the branches of barbs then the barbules interlocked with one another by small hooks, and its semi-porous nature, it is not easy to develop latent fingerprints on them, let alone the feathers come in a huge variety of forms and patterns that would disturb the ridge details.
After several attempts by different powder methods and chemical enhancement, we successfully recovered fingerprints from wing feathers and contour feathers. The results indicate that Nano fluorescent powders and IR powders both work well on them. Despite the feather’s semi-porous nature gives us a hard time on the chemical treatment, a couple of fragmental fingerprints show too after a series of dye staining techniques were applied.