We Value Your Privacy

We and our partners use technology such as cookies on our site to personalise content and ads, provide social media features, and analyse our traffic. Click below to consent to the use of this technology across the web. You can change your mind and change your consent choices at anytime by returning to this site.

Update Consent
Loading ...

Bird Feather Identification Guide

Updated July 19, 2017

Bird-watchers and biologists can identify birds by their feathers, or "plumage." Each feather on a bird has a specific function. By examining a single feather, it is possible to identify the type of bird it belonged to and the part of the body if came from.

Loading ...

Types of Feathers

Each part of a bird has a different type of feather. Wing feathers are curved to catch the wind, tail feathers are flat and more flexible than wing feathers, while body feathers are soft and full.

Function of Feathers

According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, a bird's feathers play a role in mating, territorial dominance, regulation of body temperature, camouflage and flight. Male birds attract females and defend territory with bright and colourful plumage. Feathers regulate body temperature by keeping a bird warm and dry. Plumage also help to camouflage a bird in its surroundings, as well allowing it to take flight.

Feather Identification

The U.S. National Fish and Wildlife Forensics Laboratory has an online "Feather Atlas," which has a database of bird feathers to help with feather identification. Matches can be found by comparing any found feather to the database of hundreds of scanned feathers.

Loading ...

About the Author

Janel Bragg is an artist and writer living and working in Northwest Washington, and she has been writing and editing since 1999. Her experience includes working for Dorling Kindersley Publishing in New York City and she is credited with editing several DK titles from 1999-2000. She is pursuing a Master of Fine Art in painting and drawing from the Academy of Art University.

Loading ...