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Feather Fest Countdown: Feather Fact #10

Feather Fact #10 – Blue Feathers are not blue!

Well sure they appear to be blue to our eyes, but the coloration we see is not due to pigmentation as one might expect. In birds, blue is what is called a structural color and is the result of how tiny air pockets within the feather barbs interact with light. If you were to hold a blue feather up against the light (back light the feather)  it would appear brownish.  For an in depth explanation on feather coloration, see this article.

Feather Fest almost is almost here!

Saturday, September 23rd 10 AM to 3PM at Parc des Rapides, Lasalle QC.

We’re celebrating the world of boreal birds and the wonders of fall migration. Don’t miss what’s sure to be a fun event.

Featuring bird walks – live birds of prey – fun hands-on activities – café serving shade grown coffee, and more!

It’s going to hot on Saturday, make sure to wear a hat, bring a water bottle and a snack.

Feather Fest Countdown – Feather Fact #8

Tails serve vital flight functions

Feather Fact #8 – Flight Feathers part 2


The flight feathers of the tail are referred to as the rectrices. The term seems rather aptly derived from the Latin for “helmsman,” given its important role in directional control. The tail feathers act like a rudder on an aircraft or boat to aid with steering left and right. They also augment the wings’ lift function; raising or lowering its tail lets a bird rise or descend. In flight, a bird can twist its tail to shift direction, when perched the tail helps it balance. Most bird species have 10-12 retrices which occur in pairs.




Feather Fact #4 – A light Meal for Grebes

Feather Fact #4 – Feather light Meals for Grebes

If you were a newly hatched Pied-billed Grebe chick, one of your first meals might be feathers. Not by accident either, grebe adults also eat feathers as well as feed them to their young. As a matter of fact, research has shown grebe stomach contents consisting of 52% feathers. Talk about eating light!

So where do they get all the feathers to ingest? They pluck out their own, primarily from the flank area. Those feathers actually continue to molt throughout the year, an adaptation that renders a continuous supply of the fluffy meal. Now, you are surely asking yourself, so why are they eating all these feathers anyway? The leading theory seems to be that it helps them with pellet casting once any hard bony bits in the stomach are digested, and that the pellet ejections minimize the buildup of parasites.

Source: Muller, Martin J. and Robert W. Storer.(1999).Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps), The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America:

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