Feathers are among the most common objects found at the Cove, especially from late July into fall. Birds wear their feathers out. Once a year they get rid of their old feathers, and grow a new set.  See if  you can match the feathers you find with these general types. 

featherwear.jpg (77035 bytes) Worn feather of a Scrub Jay from my yard in Morro Bay. Birds that fly in and out of brush a lot develop pronounced wear patterns like this. 
blackcrwnedher1.jpg (32506 bytes) Down feather. Function warmth. This grows next to the bird's body, and insulates it.  Found in backyard. 
farsideoatessummit.jpg (74486 bytes) Semiplume. Found on far side of Oates' Peak. 
Plumefea.jpg (56242 bytes) Plume feather. Function display, during breeding season. Feather of a Snowy Egret
SPFEATH.JPG (17616 bytes) Contour feather. Function streamlining 

Feather of a Long-billed Curlew or Marbled Godwit. There was one Curlew and no Godwits in the Cove for several days before I found this feather.

 This feather is equally wide on the two sides which means it is one of the streamlining contour feathers of the body.

 Curlews and Godwits replace all their feathers in late summer. At this time they have finished their migration. Food is plentiful and breeding is over. They thus have the resources to undertake the energetically demanding process of feather replacement. (Sibley …Bird Life and Behavior)

contour feather.jpg (58937 bytes) Contour feather of a mourning dove.
owl contour feather.jpg (35586 bytes) Owl Contour Feather; soft edges for silent night flight.
flightfeas.jpg (53156 bytes) Flight feathers. The long ones that are narrower at the tips are primary flight feathers. These important feathers occur on the tips of the wings. They have multiple muscle attachments. Birds can control the exact position of their primary flight feathers like we control the position of our fingers. 
small photo of touching flight feathers.jpg (33979 bytes) The primary is pale where the secondary overlapped it.
small photo of overlapping flight feathers.jpg (31575 bytes) Position of primary and secondary during flight.
humfeather1.jpg (181276 bytes)
Tail feathers of Anna's Hummingbird 
tailfeather.jpg (61013 bytes) Tail feathers; a blunt feather with wear just at the end.
(Specimen from Blackbird)

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Revised Monday, February 18, 2008 02:25:47 PM