Light, flexible, strong, and colorful, feathers are impressive structures. Although feathers come in an amazing array of types, they are all made up of the same basic parts that have evolved small modifications to serve different functions. Downy feathers have a loosely arranged structure that helps trap air close to the bird’s warm body. The structure of other feathers features a small alteration that makes a big difference; microscopic hooks that interlock to form a wind and waterproof barrier that allows birds to fly and stay dry.

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How Feathers Are Built is part of a larger Interactive Feature where you'll find:
  1. What is Unique to Birds? Discover which anatomical features are unique to birds What is Unique to Birds?
  2. How Feathers Are Built Explore feather anatomy—from the fluffy downs to the aerodynamic flight feathers How Feathers Are Built
  3. What Feathers Do Learn how feathers function to help birds fly, show off, blend in, stay warm, and keep dry What Feathers Do
  4. Feathers Through Time Get the scoop on how and why feathers evolved on the dinosaur ancestors of birds Feathers Through Time
  5. Meet a Feather Scientist Follow the scientific journey that uncovered how some feathers act as musical instruments Meet a Feather Scientist
  6. Think About Feathers Take a minute to reflect on what you've learned about feathers Think About Feathers

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