Feather types

Bird Watching (UK) - - Your Birding Month -

All birds have feath­ers. They pro­vide birds with in­su­la­tion and phys­i­cal pro­tec­tion, the means to flight and also pro­vide most of the colour used for dis­play, sex­ual se­lec­tion and even cam­ou­flage. Feath­ers are ex­tremely light in weight and re­place­able and reg­u­larly re­placed. Feath­ers are moulted reg­u­larly and dis­carded in­di­vid­ual feath­ers are fre­quently en­coun­tered, es­pe­cially com­pared to find­ing dead birds. Dif­fer­ent struc­tures of feath­ers per­form dif­fer­ent func­tions on a bird. Feath­ers can be broadly di­vided into down feath­ers (which are the in­su­la­tion un­der the main feath­ers) and vaned feath­ers which form the body (con­tour) feath­ers as well as the longer tail and wing feath­ers. If you find a long, nar­row feather it is prob­a­bly ei­ther one of the longer tail feath­ers (called rec­tri­ces) or one of the flight feath­ers of the wing (called remiges). The longer flight feath­ers (eg the pri­maries) are usu­ally par­tic­u­larly asym­met­ri­cal, with a nar­rower lead­ing edge, and broader pat­tern. SAVI’S WAR­BLER BIRD RACES PHEAS­ANT JAY GREY HERON Early May is the best time to take on a ‘bird race’, or what our Amer­i­can friends would call a ‘Big Day’. The idea is to see (or hear) as many dif­fer­ent birds as pos­si­ble in a 24-hour pe­riod. In its purest sense, there is no limit as to where you watch, but most bird races have some kind of ge­o­graphic limit, per­haps most of­ten within a given county. But you may want to try your lo­cal parish, patch or coun­try park, or even your gar­den. In the ex­treme, you may even carry out what the Amer­i­cans have called the Big Sit, where you are re­stricted to what you can record strictly from within a pre­de­ter­mined tiny area (of­ten de­fined as be­ing a 17 foot di­am­e­ter cir­cle). Num­ber of House Martin nests on UK houses Year of only ac­cepted oc­cur­rence of Pur­ple Martin

Num­ber of times Tree Swal­low has oc­curred in UK Here are 10 tips to bird race suc­cess Carry out re­con­nais­sance to find out where the birds are

In­clude a wide range of habi­tats in your route

Plan your route in ad­vance Stick to your plan Use both night pe­ri­ods

Find the best pos­si­ble dawn cho­rus spot you can

Don’t be dis­tracted by rare birds seen off route

All birds count the same, so don’t waste too much time on one bird

Heard-only counts, so don’t try to see ev­ery­thing

Learn flight calls! BARN OWL


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