Feathers are helpful to birds for lots of things! A bird’s feathers help the bird to stay warm and protect the bird’s body underneath. Many birds’ feathers are also waterproof, which keeps them safe from the rain or helps them stay warm in the water!
Bird feathers are also one of the things that make it possible for birds to fly! Feathers are lightweight (they don’t weigh the bird down) and they allow a bird to catch and direct air with their wings in a special way that allows them to fly.
In lots of cases, feathers also help birds to attract a mate! (A peacock’s beautiful display of tail feathers is one great example.) In other cases, feathers can help a bird to hide and camouflage!
Because feathers are so important to birds, they naturally “molt” and replace their feathers about once or twice a year, to make sure all of their feathers stay in good shape!
ExplorationOther Fun Feather Functions!
Bird feathers are pretty special -- they do a lot of important and helpful things for birds. Can you think of some ways humans make use of bird feathers too?
Have you ever owned a warm, puffy down coat to wear on a cold winter day? The down inside that coat is actually “down feathers,” just like birds use for keeping themselves warm!
Or maybe you’ve seen a picture of a really old-fashioned pen. Before we had the kinds of pens we use today, people dipped the ends of special long feathers called “quill feathers” into ink, and then used them to write!
Sources & links
“Why do birds have feathers?” Celebrate Urban Birds ”“ The Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Cornell University Cooperative Extension. 22 Nov. 2010 “Feathers.” Glossopedia. Globio. 22 Nov. 2010 “The Wonder of Bird Feathers.” The Amazing World of Birds. Earthlife Web. 22 Nov. 2010