Feathers aren’t just used for flight; they can also be highly effective adaptations for swimming. The contour feathers of a King Penguin, for example, give them a streamlined shape which helps reduce drag when diving underwater. Contour feathers can also keep the penguin warm on land by trapping air against the bird’s skin that is then heated up by the sun.

This video accompanies Chapter 4, Feathers and Plumages, Handbook of Bird Biology, 3rd Edition from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Wiley Publishing.

Recorded by Santiago Imberti, Macaulay Library

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