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.
|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.|
|Down feather. Function warmth. This grows next to the bird's body, and insulates it. Found in backyard.|
|Semiplume. Found on far side of Oates' Peak.|
|Plume feather. Function display, during breeding season. Feather of a Snowy Egret|
|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 of a mourning dove.|
|Owl Contour Feather; soft edges for silent night flight.|
|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.|
|The primary is pale where the secondary overlapped it.|
|Position of primary and secondary during flight.|
Tail feathers of Anna's Hummingbird
|Tail feathers; a blunt feather with wear
just at the end.
(Specimen from Blackbird)
Revised Monday, February 18, 2008 02:25:47 PM