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Thursday, January 28, 2010
More About Feathers

By Caitlyn
Follow in the adventures of Flip, Rabbit and Caitlyn in the Fledgling Blog.

Remember last month when I told you about remiges, rectrices, contour, semiplume and filoplume feathers? Well this month I’m going to tell you about the last two types of feathers — bristle and powder feathers — and also how birds use all these type of feathers. Let’s go.

Bristles are also known as filoplume feathers are hair-like feathers on the eyelids or over the nose. They look like eyelashes.

Powder down feathers are that have little or no shaft. They are soft and fluffy. Powder-down feathers help insulate birds by trapping air. The bird then spreads this fine powder all over its body to act as water repellant.

Birds use their feathers for:

  • warmth
  • camouflage
  • flight
  • skin protection/water proofing
  • communication
  • sound or lack of sound

    I’m sure you can guess why birds use their feathers for many of these activities, but let’s talk about a few anyway.

    Flight feathers are a bird’s main source of protection. In the wild, a parrot rarely bite because if it is up against a leopard or something big then it would not be powerful enough to bite or hurt them. But the bird can fly away to safety.

    Camouflage feathers are another source of protection. Take Amazon parrots for instance; they blend in the trees because they’re green and the splashes of color on them look like flowers.  Good disguise.

    Birds use their feathers to communicate with each other. In cockatoo language for instance, when they get mad, they raise their crests to help them look bigger. Other birds will fluff up to look bigger, warning a predator, (or you!) to back away. Other feather signs are happy ones. I know that when Flip is happy he’ll puff up and give me a little nudge with his beak to tell me he wants me to preen him. Your bird may have a different signal.  Different birds have different ways of saying that they are happy.

    Well that concludes our journey through feathers, but I want to ask you something. When you hear the words “waterproof bird” what do you think? Penguin, duck, goose, sure. But what about parrots? We’ll find out more next month.

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    Reader Comments
    cool thanks
    Tommy, Pocatello, ID
    Posted: 2/17/2010 9:23:34 AM
    Very informative, Caitlyn. You always amnage to teach me something new!
    David, Buffalo Grove, IL
    Posted: 2/3/2010 3:46:57 PM
    Thanks for the info. I did not know about the different types of feathers. My Senegal Fluffs his feathers and wings up and walks like a chicken to tell me he wants me. Verry funny
    Debbie, fountain, CO
    Posted: 2/2/2010 7:24:31 AM
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