The every changing plumage of bird species comes in a variety of styles and colors, ranging from the very dull, to the amazingly bright. Amazingly, there are a number of bird species who in fact, have no coloring to their feathers. These species feathers are iridescent, meaning the UV rays from the sun cast a hue on them, giving them the colors we see.
But what are the exact functions and purposes of feathers? In what ways to birds use them?
This article will quickly dive into the world of feathers, and give you some quick insight into what exactly our backyard bird use their feathers for and why!
Controlling Body Temperature
In many species of birds, feathers are used to keep them warm and control their body temperature, depending on their climate. Some feathers are able to tap and contain small air pockets that are kept close to the body to help keep the bird warm. Quite often you will find a bird basking in the sun with their head tucked closely into their plumage; they do this with both their heads and their feet to help regulate body temperature as well.
Finding A Mate
As we all know, the male birds of certain species are equipped with a typically brighter and more pleasing plumage than that of their female counterparts. The reason behind this is simple; the markings of the male can have a very big impact on how attractive he appears to females.
In some predatory species like owls, the feathers on their face are arranged like two dishes. Their main function is allowing the bird to collect and channel sounds more accurately, making them a better hunter in the dark.
This one is a given, as I am sure most of us have spent time at one point or another scanning a bush or tree for an elusive songbird that just seemed to blend right in. Many species exhibit what is known as countershading; which is the feather pattern that includes dark back feathers over lighter colored underparts. The main function of their camouflaged colors is obvious; safety.
Another obvious feature of feathers; as they play a huge role in the flight of birds. Feathers provide a great amount of support to the overall shape of the wing, including the airfoil shape that gives the bird the lift it needs during flight.