Clothing/Cosmetics and Animal Abuse Article from All-Creatures.org



A feather worth more than gold: history of hunting birds for the feather trade

From RealityChecksWithStaci-lee.com
September 3023

Dozens of species of birds were killed for their feathers, including some that went extinct because of over hunting. The main use of feathers were to decorate ladies hats, and to a lesser degree clothing and other accessories. Species most sought after by the hat industry were: Roseate Spoonbills, Ostrich, Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, Flamingos, Pigeons and Great Blue Herons. Even tiny songbirds and owls were not sparred.

feather vs. gold

At the turn of the 20th century bird feathers were worth more than gold. Itís hard to believe but true. History classes teach about those who traveled out west seeking fortune and fame panning for gold but little is said about the feather hunters. For many fortune hunters the gold they sought were pink and white and floated in the air. They also belonged to living creatures who would soon be hunted to near extinction. The use of feathers is centuries old and a global problem but by the late 1800s milliners, hat makers, expedited their use causing millions of birds to die.

Feathers belong on birds not hats

Dozens of species of birds were killed for their feathers, including some that went extinct because of over hunting. The main use of feathers were to decorate ladies hats, and to a lesser degree clothing and other accessories. Species most sought after by the hat industry were: Roseate Spoonbills, Ostrich, Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, Flamingos, Pigeons and Great Blue Herons. Even tiny songbirds and owls were not sparred.

Though the hat industry has slowed considerably, the use of real feathers has waned, but not disappeared. Habitat loss is the next hurdle these birds must overcome to survive into the next century. As with many industries, the wearing of hats may be out of fashion but the feather industry just shifts to other forms of use. Very few people can tell real from fake feathers.

Dying for vanity

By the 1890s, women were wearing whole bodies of birds on hats. In 1886, noted ornithologist Frank Chapman counted 40 species of native birds, or bird parts, decorating most of the 700 ladies' hats that he had observed in New York City. This should come as no surprise since it was also considered fashionable to wear a whole dead fox wrapped around the collar of jackets. I canít imagine what went through a womanís mind wearing a hat adorned with dead birds.

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Roseate Spoonbill
The Roseate Spoonbill is still struggling to survive and has never fully recovered



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