Monday, November 17, 2008

Contest time, my gentle readers

Okay, you bird nerds. Time to show off. (Or desperately search the Web for the answers). Either way, you will all learn a bit about feathers.

The contest:
Name the basic parts of this feather. (The lines)
Bonus: Name what the "arrow" is indicating.

Now, remember this is a basic diagram. You don't need to go into barbs, barbules, proximal and distal barbules to the next barb, hooklets....okay?
Don't anyone hyperventilate on me.

Hint: This is a wing feather.

The Prize:
A suncatcher for your car's rear-view mirror...complete with Swarovski crystals and a cute little bird charm.


Lynne said...

Anterior vane
Posterior vane

Kallen305 said...

I will be sure to attempt this tomorrow. I just took a Tylenol PM and am in no condition to even attempt it as it would require hours of google research for a newbie such as myself. ;o)

KGMom said...

Leading Edge
Trailing Edge

No hyperventilating here, just lots of Google research.

Joy said...







Trixie said...

well, I've been beaten to the punch!

KatDoc said...

Skinny part of the feather

Fat part of the feather

Feather stick

Bonus arrow: Not part of the feather


~KatDoc, who knows ALL the technical stuff

The Swami said...



Quill pen


dguzman said...


Owlman said...

You're so vane, you prolly think this post is about you.... Vane, final answer!

Susan Gets Native said...

Wow. I think Swami gets credit just for creativity.
And Owlman REALLY wants some jewelry, doesn't he?

Donna (KGMom) is close....but let's get some different names for the "edges".

Susan Gets Native said...

Lynne is close, too.
But we need the "bonus" answer.

Lynne said...

OK. Try this.
clockwise from top:

anteior vane
posterior vane

Mary said...

I'll go with Quill Pen.

Mary, too lazy to google

nina said...

Leading edge
Anterior Vane
Posterior Vane

nina said...

Or if you read black boxes top to bottom:
Anterior Vane
Leading edge
Posterior Vane

Susan Gets Native said...

BINGO, Nina!
That's what I was looking for!

The "blades" of a feather are called the vanes.
There is an anterior and posterior vane.

The rachis (or shaft) is the "trunk" of the feather.

And the bonus answer was the leading edge. This was a WING feather, and wing feathers are slimmer on the leading edge. The leading edge hits the air first, which is why it is slimmer than the following edge. If leading edges were the same width, the air turbulence would fray it and render it useless.

The "calamus" is the part of a feather that has no barbs, i.e.the "bald" part.

Good job, everyone! Did we learn stuff? Aren't you glad I didn't ask anyone to tell me the difference between a filoplume and an downy?

nina said...

Fortunately for me I find these wing feathers in the yard often--from my Barred owl--and looked up info to figure out which type of feather it was.But I have to admit I needed a refresher!

Cindie U. said...

I liked Katdoc's answers the best!

Anonymous said...

Your drawing does not really show illustrate parts of a feather except for the rachis. The other labels refer to topographical features.
Inner and outer vanes really are not "parts' but locations.
For reference see Manual of Ornithology Avian Structure and Function by Procter&Lynch Publishec by Yale Press.
This is an excellent reference for anyone who loves to bird. :)

Susan Gets Native said...

You know, if you want to actually ADD to the discussion, I suggest you DO that in your next comment.

My readers are not ornithologists, but bird bloggers and backyard bird enthusiasts.
This was a simple contest so I can give away jewelry that I make.

And since your comment seems to only advertise this book, I will thank you not to use my blog as your ad agency. I choose what I support or endorse.
I don't trust anyone who keeps their profile "private".

Owlman said...

Well said Susan. Some of us can't even spell ornothologists ;-)

KatDoc said...


Susan's drawing was stolen (Er, I mean "borrowed," - sorry, Susan!) from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Handbook of Bird Biology, as she referenced, and the answers she gave are exactly as the CLO has labeled this drawing on their site. So pfftt! to you. :P~

(I went there and looked up the answers in a bold attempt to win another prize, but then was too honest to cheat.)

~Kathi, miffed at people who don't play along

Kathiesbirds said...

Okay, I am not looking at anyone else's comments or searching on the internet. I am going to confess that I don't know most of it, except I think the middle stiff part is called the shaft. Is my ignorance showing now?

Anonymous said...

First of all Susan I am not an Ornithologist and have to connection to the above mentioned publication except that I bought it because it is an excellent reference. That is the same reason that I bought Frank Gill's Ornithology 3rd ed. another excellent reference. I am a newly retired groundskeeper and Agromomist and an avid back yard birder. I have found that in order to identify birds and describe them to others correctly it was a good policy to be able to do it accurately, thus I purchased the books plus it is a learning experience.
I am truly sorry if you were offended and you have my humble apology.