Not far from the old guidepost at Moscar Cross, I spotted a feather. It's the one at the top of this post. As I am not a plumologist, it was the delicate attractiveness of the feather that caught my eye. The "rachis" is the central trunk of the feather growing up from the "calamus" or root that would have been attached to the host bird's body.
At the base of the feather there are downy, disconnected feathers known as "afterfeathers". They don't have barbs and their main function is insulation. The main shape of the feather is called the "vane" and this is made up of barb-connected "pennaceous" feathers. Slightly oily for water protection, these outer feathers also have aerodynamic significance.
I thought that the feather I found might have belonged to a red grouse but my googling efforts perhaps proved otherwise. Now I suspect it came from a bird of prey - maybe some sort of falcon. That's we human beings all over isn't it? Trying to name, to classify, to pin down - leaving no stone unturned. From stars, to butterflies to sea creatures at the bottom of the Mariana Trench - we want to name and know everything - as if mystery was somehow an anathema.
Surely, there's nothing wrong with simply looking at a feather, noticing its virtual weightlessness, observing the particular markings that have emerged from many thousands of years of avian evolution. They were here before us - the birds I mean - the direct descendants of flying dinosaurs when we were not even imagined.
Looks like a buzzard’s colouringReplyDelete
You could be right.Delete
Just researched...not a buzzard's feather.Delete
We are always finding white feather and I like to think they have a meaning but as we have a couple of large seagulls who visit each day I think I am fooling myself. lolReplyDelete
Perhaps they come out of your pillows... the feathers I mean - not the seagulls. Sleeping with a live seagull in a pillow would be difficult to say the least.Delete
I picked up a feather in France last September. I brought it home. It's around the same size as yours but has white spots on a black background. It's very pretty but I haven't been able to identify it.ReplyDelete
A nice souvenir.Delete
Plumology - not to be confused with prunusology. Possibly easier because plums don't have white margins.ReplyDelete
I googled "prunusology" but it does not seem to exist.Delete
The study of stoned fruit such as plums.Delete
Research says no Sue but thanks anyway.Delete
Always think of Hildegarde when I see a white feather floating down - won't quote because it's religious! I collect the soft beige white feathers of the barn owls as they scan our gardens and the church yard. Your feather is very distinctive and rather pretty.ReplyDelete
I thought so too. That's why I picked it up.Delete
Feathers are true wonders of nature's engineering skill. They are also very beautiful. When I still had cats, I would bring home for them any feather found during a walk. They loved to sniff it for a while but then lost interest and I ended up throwing it away. Now it is ages that I last picked one up from the ground.ReplyDelete
Maybe next time you go rambling with OK, you will find a feather.Delete
The inner part of the top of that feather does remind me of our hawk feathers so there you go...ReplyDelete
I am fascinated by feathers. Even my chicken's feathers. Some of them are so obviously utilitarian and some are so gloriously decorative. It thrills me to think that dinosaurs were feathered. So, so cool.
As I say, there's a lot that we still do not know about feathers. Why, for example, is the feather I picked up marked in that particular way?Delete
Red Grouse looks very likely Mr Pudding. They like the Yorkshire moors and also Scottish blended whisky,ReplyDelete
I checked out red grouse feathers straight off but no - not red grouse.Delete
Marco rarely loses perfect feathers, usually it's the older, rattier ones that he loses when he's molting. I used to have some large, beautiful feathers from three macaws I cared for. Eventually I threw them away after keeping them for many years. By the way, you can really see the connection between birds and dinosaurs if you look at unfeathered baby parrots!ReplyDelete
I guess that living with a parrot makes you think about feathers and suchlike more than the rest of us.Delete
Am ambivalent about feathers. Yes, they look great. Particularly when still attached to the original wearer, or on the headband of an Apache. Or a Twenties' socialite's head gear, dancing the Charleston. For reasons not clear to me I see feathers found (shedder unknow) as unclean, bearer of disease. I know it's a ridiculous notion. Not least because all the pillows and duvets in my dwelling are mixtures of goose/duck feathers and their down - in varying percentages. Please don't mention dust mites. Good job they are so small we can't see them. Out of sight, out of mind.ReplyDelete
As so often, you have tucked away, in your post, an astute observation: We (humans) have this urge to get to the bottom of/explain everything. Sometimes I wonder how, one day, we'll feel when everything is explained. When there is no mystery left. Not even for a neurologist. For me, not that I'll be there to bear witness, that'll be a sad day for humanity.
The "weightlessness" of a feather? It's a wonder. Despite what I said in my intro, I am always happy when a WHITE feather floats along my path. No, not from the bedding. White feathers carrying some primal symbolism.
PS Last night I dreamt of a budgerigar. It didn't shed feathers. It kept clinging to my hair. I suppose madness has to start somewhere.
How big was the budgerigar? Perhaps it was the size of a telegraph pole. "Who's a pretty boy?"Delete
When birds are preening it seems that they are invariably pecking at feather mites. I could direct you to a website that is largely about feather mites but I note your request near the end of your first paragraph.
That's what I love about science, the beauty of it, the rationality of it, the order of it. The study of feathers sounds like a wonderful area of study.ReplyDelete
Right now I'm reading a book about science and trees which brings me to tears at times. It is art and science beautifully blended together. "The Overstory" by Richard Powers.
Thanks for the recommendation Lily. That can go in my "books to read" queue which stretches from here to the coast.Delete
It is a beautiful feather and the markings are unique. I tried a Google Image search but that was not helpful. Maybe it was sent to you not to question but to simply enjoy.ReplyDelete
You might be right Bonnie. Why do we always need to know?Delete
There was me thinking it was the study of plums.ReplyDelete
As birder, I didn't know this. There is a difference in bird feathers depending on their habitat.ReplyDelete
That's a beautiful feather. I haven't the foggiest idea what bird it comes from but a grouse seems like a good guess, Google be damned!ReplyDelete