Friday, January 26, 2018

Why Birds Have Different Feathers?

White peacock has totally white feathers.

Feathers play important roles for birds other than become their main characteristics for recognition. Even though their beautiful plumage act as part of the attractions for mates and camouflage, there are many other functions provide by their feathers. This article will looking to the special functions of birds feathers.

The main purposes of bird feathers are to provide insulation and to provide suitable functions for their living habits. All of birds have feathers weather it’s thick or thin. Their feathers not always colourful or look vibrant – but they always work to suite the birds need.


Ostrich feathers are coarse but still fluffy.

Ostrich has less feathers and much coarse compare to any other birds with smaller size especially the birds with ability to fly. This because, the ostrich need their feathers to protect them from the daily heat while provide them the warm of their own body temperature during the night.


Owl have good night vision and special silent flight.

Extra feature on owl's feather to make it's flight more silent.

The owl have special feathers to make their flight become silent during the night. These feathers dampened the sound when they flap their wings. This characteristic is so important to avoid their prey from noticing that the owl almost near them - second before they being zapped by the nocturnal owl.

For flying birds the feathers help to shapes their wings according to their flight styles. Most birds that flying low have their wing shapes and size just suitable for their frequent flapping styles. This types of flying is suitable for short to medium range of flight but allow high controllability.

For high altitude fliers such as condors, cranes, eagles and few other migratory birds has their wing tip feathers bend to reduce drag. By reducing drag, it will save the birds lots of energy to allow them to fly further to search for foods or during the long migration.

Compared to any other birds, penguin’s feathers are so important in order to avoid them from die freezing. Their feathers are so tight and also waterproof. These allow penguins to stay warm even when they’re diving into the frigid water. Their special feathers also aid their swimming to catch fish in the water.

Other than their structures, bird feathers also provide colouration that allow them to blend in with their surroundings. Other than to avoid detection by their predators it also help them to be detected by their prey – what a brilliant ideas! Ptarmigan in the other hand change their plumage according to the seasons so they don’t have to migrate to other places during winter.


Ptarmigan during summer - photo by Gary Kramer

Ptarmigan during winter - photo by Gary Kramer
Collections of bird feathers.

Stunning iridescent colours of hummingbird - photo by Jess Findlay

Then there’s the best part of all of the bird feathers – to make it looks stunning. Birds have beautiful colours of plumage mostly to attract their mates. Unfortunately it also attract human to keep them as pet. Their colours either produce by pigments or by light diffractions (for the iridescent colours). Besides colours their feathers shapes also play a big roles in their grand display.

Birds inspires human in many ways especially in flight technology. Even after the invention of an aeroplane, human still studying in order to improve the technology. By studying the wing tip of birds, nowadays we have most of the aeroplane wing tips come with bend at the end of it. We don’t have to tell more when the planes name itself come after birds such as – blackbird and nighthawk. This also encourage the Festo the robot inventor to produce robot fliers that truly assembled as bird.

High altitude fliers need to reduce the drag.

Robot flier resembled bird by Festo.

There are so many things to learn just by observing bird feathers telling how important for us to make sure they survival. By understanding their behaviour we can understand how to provide them with right environment. Human have the capabilities to provide development without causing other species to extinction.



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