Written by an area Landscape Architect and birdwatcher with over 30 years of experience with landscaping in north Texas: what works and what doesn't. Emphasis on attracting birds to north Texas yards, and reducing required yard maintenance. Tips, trivia and proven advice for a natural, low-cost approach for this unique and sensitive part of the country.
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Wednesday, March 12, 2014
How many feathers does a bird have?
A typical bird has between 2000 and 4000 feathers. The
feathers all start out as living tissue, complete with a blood supply. After
they’re formed, however, the blood shuts off and the feathers remain, sort of
like our hair or fingernails – basically dead structures.
Birds' feathers are key to two very crucial features of
birds; warm-bloodedness and flight.
To a scientist, a bird’s feathers have all sorts of
names such as “flight feathers”, “primary feathers” and things called
“filoplumes”. Basically, however, all feathers fit into just two categories:
“down feathers” and “contour feathers”.
Loosely arranged down feathers trap large amounts of
air, which insulate the bird’s body well. This enables keeps the bird’s body
warm and allows warm-bloodedness. Contour feathers help promote flight by
smoothing the bird’s body, and making it aerodynamic, allowing flight. These are mainly on the outside of a bird.
That’s all good to know. But all most of us really
care about is that birds’ feathers make them pretty and colorful. (There’s a science-based reason for that
YOST, in addition to being a blogger, is a licensed Landscape Architect
emeritus who has lived and worked in north Texas for over 30 years. He is the
recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award of the Native Plant Society of Texas,
and is a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA),
International Federation of Landscape Architects, National Wildlife Federation
and the Audubon Society. His office is at Yost87@charter.net