Feathers equal Warmth

By Dave Hanks

Vertebrates (animals with backbones) have four general types of body coverings: skin (amphibians and humans), scales (reptiles and fish), hair (mammals), or feathers. Birds and feathers go together. Feathers are what define a bird!

Birds have claws, but so do mammals. Birds have beaks, but so do turtles and squid. Birds lay eggs, but so do fish and reptiles. Birds can fly, but so do bats and insects. And, also, some birds don’t fly. Feathers are the one thing that all birds have, and only birds have, that other species don’t have.

Feathers have several uses. One such purpose is for warmth. Military airmen must wear cold inhibiting clothing to withstand the increased cold at high altitudes. Birds are unaffected and have no concern about leaving ground temperatures because of their feathers. No synthetic insulation has yet been invented that is equal to feathers. “A mountain climber would have to wear 11 pairs of polypropylene long johns to achieve the same heat retention as one down-filled expedition jacket”. (Thor Hanson – Audubon Magazine – January/February, 2012). Nothing compares with the soft, fluffy down that is close to a bird’s body for warmth. The bristle-like projections that cover most of an owl’s beak, or feet, are actually feathers.

The WESTERN SCREECH OWL (pictured) can be found in urban areas as well as western wild lands. They get their name from a very high pitched call. They have feathers that extend over the base of their beaks and down their legs. They are well equipped for the cold, as they stay year round in their habitat.

(Looking like a miniature Great Horned – A distant relative)