Sunday, 12 February 2017

Fantastic Feathers

I've been collecting feathers for quite a number of years now and having just sorted my collection out, I'm quite surprised by how many I have. Some may think this is a rather odd hobby and I have had some strange looks when I go to pull something out of my pocket and out comes a bundle of feathers. But for me there is something enticing about a feather. Any feather found comes with an abundance of curiosity...What bird is it off? How did it get there? Was there a predator involved? Is it a flight feather, contour feather or is it downy? Have I got one of that species already?

So I pick up the feather and it gets added to the collection and here are just some of my treasures:


I have two buzzard wing feathers, one off each wing and each measuring approximately 30cm. When you lie them out and imagine the wing span - its pretty impressive. Its also hard to imagine that the feathers above are also off a buzzard as they are tiny in comparison but are much softer and downy and most likely from the breast area. Where I found one of my buzzard wing feathers, some time later I found the remains of rabbit fur and a buzzard pellet in the same area. I have never seen the buzzard but there is something that is almost more satisfying about these little finds than seeing the bird itself.
In a different woodland area I have also found pellets of a tawny owl and then finally I one day I also found some feathers. 

Tawny Owl
Tawny Owl
I have been lucky enough to spot a snowy owl in the Cairngorms, Soctland in the winter of 2013 and if I ever find a snowy owl feather I will be pretty made up! However, for now I will settle for my Barn Owl feathers of which I have a few. I often spot Barn Owls in winter but I have yet to find some pellets!

Barn Owl
Other favourites in my collection are my woodpecker and Jay feather, simply for the complexity of the colouration and design. The spots on a woodpecker feather are similar delightful and the blue stripes on one of my Jay feathers are tiny.

Greater Spotted Woodpecker

I also have magpie feathers and what at first looks like a plain black and white feather actually has a lovely irridescent sheen of blue when held to the light

A favourite find of mine is my heron feather, simply because of the "fluffy but spiky" feel to it. It is also a favourite because I am not 100% sure it is a heron but it was found by the river where I often see one and it is the correct colour and design...if that is the right word!

Mallard duck

Mallard Duck Tail Feather
Another lovely feather has to be my tail feather off a mallard duck. I found this one near to where ducks often sat and I love it. It's a beautiful shiny feather and the curl on the tip is jsut brilliant.

I also have a large number of pheasant feathers, in fact they are the ones that always seem to be in my coat pockets and I had to get rid of some as they are just everywhere and I just can't seem to help picking them up. The variety of the design and colour is just fascinating.


I have also been lucky enough to find a number of feathers in the uplands and most of these look like they have been left behind after a predator attack. Although one that has me stumped is the little cluster of golden breast feathers that I found on upland heath and I am not totally sure what they are from and if they are predator or prey. Whatever they are from the golden colour is beautiful. I have also found the odd small feather and a cluster of tiny black and white feathers which were definitely from a predated bird.

Feather cluster from an unknown upland bird
Group of feathers left behind by a predator
My walks on the beach and cliff tops have also resulted in a number of gull feathers, the black headed gull feather could easily be mistaken for magpie

Typical Gull feathers
Black Headed Gull
And to finish I also have some rather colorful red and green feathers from my friends Blue Fronted Amazon, not commonly found in the UK!

Blue Fronted Amazon
And so to finish all I can say is feather collecting is great fun and once you start looking you will see them everywhere. It is great fun but be warned it is very addictive and don't forget every feather has a story to tell...

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