A Wildlife Article from All-Creatures.org




How Do Feathers Work, And What Can They Tell You?

From OpenSanctuary.org
May 2023

Bird feathers have evolved in many diverse ways to serve different functions, depending on the needs of the bird wearing them. These functions include flight, thermal insulation, adding buoyancy in water, waterproofing, camouflaging, communication, and protection! Despite their diversity, all bird feathers have certain things in common.

feather anatomy

Unique to birds, feathers come in all different kinds of shapes, sizes and colors. When it comes to the avian residents at your animal organization, observing feathers carefully can be a helpful way to get a quick insight into a resident’s overall health! This resource is meant to offer you an introduction to the basic biology of feathers, how birds molt, and some things to look out for when it comes to the daily observation of your avian residents.

The Anatomy Of A Feather

Bird feathers have evolved in many diverse ways to serve different functions, depending on the needs of the bird wearing them. These functions include flight, thermal insulation, adding buoyancy in water, waterproofing, camouflaging, communication, and protection!

Despite their diversity, all bird feathers have certain things in common. They are composed of a protein known as beta-keratin, formed into a branching structure to form feathers.

The rachis or shaft is a tough tube that serves as the “trunk” of the branching structure, extending through the length of the feather. The base of the rachis is commonly hollow and is known as the calaumus or quill. From the rachis extend long thin fiber-like barbs, which are like the branches of a tree. From the barbs extend smaller, finer fibers, known as barbules, which link the barbs together like velcro.

Topics include:

  • Certain Breeds Of Birds Have Different Feather Structures That Require Special Care!
  • How Feathers Are Organized On A Bird’s Body
  • A Note On Powder Down Feathers
  • A Note On Feathers And Health Checks
  • Molting
  • A Note On Suprelorin Implants And Molting
  • Damaged Blood Feathers Can Present An Emergency!
  • A Note on Bathing Birds!
  • What Should You Do with Molted Feathers?
  • What Can Feathers Tell You About Your Avian Residents?
  • Using Feathers To Distinguish Males From Females
  • Feathers As A Means Of Communication
  • Feathers As Health Alerts 

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Please read the ENTIRE ARTICLE HERE.

 

a feather

 

 


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