As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

The hidden language of bird feathers

At first glance, the Great Argus is a quiet, foraging, pheasant-like bird from the Phasianidae family — until mating season. The wing feathers are the crown jewel of the Argus’s plumage. In an elaborate mating dance, the male Argus fans its wings toward the female, creating a conical display of spots. (Robert Clark)

If you were to pick up a spotted eagle-owl’s feather, you might think it doesn’t look like anything special. It has an uneven, coffee-brown color and white patches. The leading edge is a row of stunted barbs; on the other side the delicate tendrils wisp away.

But this unassuming tattered edge makes for one of the most fascinating feathers in the world. Although the design creates drag, it can also muffle the sound of the bird’s approach to prey before it swiftly folds its talons around an unsuspecting mouse or insect.

Photographer Robert Clark’s new book, “Feathers: Displays of Brilliant Plumage” (Chronicle Books, 2016), reveals feathers like this one as the works of art and engineering that they are. It’s no wonder that human biomimicry of birds and their wings has become such an important part of our lives.

No comments:

Post a Comment