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A Few Facts About Feathers

Since we're studying bird identification this week we thought we'd write up a few facts about bird feathers. It would take days (possibly weeks!) to provide an in depth study on feathers and, honestly, that's not what we're here to do (and we're not ornithologists, so our knowledge is limited!) Our goal with the Wander Seek Explore Project is to get you excited about all of the beautiful things outside. And when you have found something that fascinates you, we want you to run with it. If birds are your thing, study them in the wild. Start a bird log and record what you see. Head to the library. Talk to an ornithologist. Tag along with a group of bird watchers. There are so many fabulous resources out there (we even have a few listed below!)


Yes, feathers are necessary for flight, but did you know a bird's feathers have many other uses as well?!

  • Feathers protect a bird's body from scrapes and bumps.

  • A bird's body is almost completely covered in feathers which provides waterproofing and keeps the bird's body at the right temperature.

  • Feathers offer excellent camouflage for both predators and prey.

  • Some birds use their own feathers to insulate their nest.

  • Male birds use their feathers to attract a mate.

For further study:

How are a bird's feathers used for flight?

Can you find any other uses for feathers?


There are seven main categories of feathers:

Wing

Down

Tail

Contour

Semiplume

Filoplume

Bristle


For further study:

What does each type of feather do?

How do the feathers all work together?


Since feathers are dead structures they need to be replaced at least once a year (a process known as molting).


For further study:

Does molting effect a bird's flight?

And now for some random facts that we found interesting (because we love fun facts!)

  • Birds are the only living beings that have feathers.

  • The longest feathers ever found were found in Japan on a chicken with tail feathers 34.7 feet long.

  • The Whistling Swan has the most feathers of all birds - with up to 25,000 feathers.

  • Hummingbirds are so small they could have less than 1,000 feathers.

  • A bird's feathers weigh more than its skeleton.

If bird feathers fascinate you, there's no stopping you from learning as much as you can about them. A great place to start online is here (from The Cornell Lab Bird Academy website) and here (from Audubon's website). Also, follow us on Facebook. We share articles we find on our page which we hope will spark a little curiosity in someone!


Happy Bird Watching!

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