The nature of feather construction


Afterfeather attached at the base of contour feathers; small plumulaceous feathers which may or may not have a shaft.
Barbicel a collective term referring to all the processes found on the barbule that interlock to create the vane.
Barbs sing ramus, pl rami; fibers that extend off the flattened sides of the shaft in parallel rows generally opposing one another; somewhat ovoid in cross-section; filled with a pithy material containing air cells.
Barbules sing radius, pl radii; extend out from either side of the barbs; each is ribbon-like from the base to about half way to the tip and whip-like over the distal half.
Basal Lamella ribbon-like base of the barbule; ventral teeth are attached to the under surface.
Bastard Wing sing alula; feathers that lie flat during normal flight, but extend out when flying slowly to prevent stalling.
Bristles generally found on bird's heads; stiff with a tapered shaft having barbs only on the proximal portion of the shaft.
Contour Feathers cover the bird's body; typically broad, thin, curving inward toward the skin, and directed toward the tail in overlapping rows; help to smooth and streamline the body for flight.
Dorsal Flanges trough-shaped proximal barbules that are more twisted than the distal barbules; hooklets overlap and attach to the flanges.
Flight Feathers include the tail feathers and wing feathers as well as supplemental feathers that cover the adjacent upper and under surfaces.
Filoplume synonymous with thread feather; hair-like feather with barbs at the end of the shaft, always intimate to other feathers (from one to twelve adjacent a feather,) but grow out of their own follicles.
Hooklets pl hamuli; hooked barbicel structures on the distal barbules that overlap and attach to opposing dorsal flanges.
Pennaceous referring to barbs having barbules with barbicels that interlock adjacent barbs.
Pennulum whip-like tip of the barbule; hooklets are attached to the proximal, ventral portion with the dorsal spines and dorsal cilium attached to the remainder of the pennulum.
Pinfeather any feather that is immature.
Plumulaceous referring to downy like barbs having barbules without barbicels.
Wing Feathers
typically 10-11 in number; attach to the middle digit and the hand; asymmetrical in vane structure with the their leading and trailing margins notched.
Quill sing calamus; that portion of the feather that is inserted in the skin follicle. It is cylindrical, transparent, and hollow having no barbs attached.
Wing Feathers
from 9 to 40 in number; attach to the ulna of the forearm.
Semiplume a plumulaceous vaned feather (i.e., marabou.)
Shaft sing rachis; that portion of the feather that the barbs are attached to; flattened on the sides that support the barbs; roughly rectangular in cross section; filled with a pithy material that contains air cells.
Spines ventral processes on the distal barbules that stop the hooklets from sliding too far and collapsing the vane.
Tail Feathers pl rectrices; large, stiff in texture, asymmetric, have vanes that are almost entirely pennaceous, and lack afterfeathers; act as a stabilizer tilting the front of the body up and down, as well as an air brake.
Wing Feathers
attach to the humerus.
Upper and Under
Tail Covert Feathers
smooth and streamline the tail of the bird.
Vane sing vexillum; the web of a feather which includes all the flat, expanded barbs, as well as any attached barbules, and barbicels which provide the surface for an airfoil in flight feathers and for covering and insulation in contour feathers.
Vaned Feathers a collective term generally referring to a feather that has at least some interlocked barbs as seen in contour, wing, and tail feathers on birds that can fly.
Web synonymous with vane.
Wing Coverts pl tectrices; cover the upper and lower wing surfaces and the bases of the wing feathers.
Wing Feathers pl remiges; usually large, stiff in texture, asymmetric, have vanes that are almost entirely pennaceous, and lack afterfeathers; used for steering.

<<< Previous page (Summation) Next page (References) >>>

User comments
From: colin · leicssg·at·  Link
Submitted July 7th 2008

this would have been great with photos attached of a steadily dissecting wing/cape/whole skin as each feather comes away.

Want to comment this page? Fill out the form below.
Only comments
in English
are accepted!

Comentarios en Ingles
solamente, por favor!

Your name Your email
Anonymize my information. Name and email will not be shown with comment.
Notify me on new comments to this article on the above email-address.
You don't have to comment to start or stop notifications.

All comments will be screened by the GFF staff before publication.
No HTML, images, ads or links, please - we do not publish such comments...
And only English language comments will be published.
Name and email is optional but recommended.
The email will be shown in a disguised form in the final comment to protect you against spam
You can see other public comments on this page