Each feather on a bird’s body is a finely tuned structure that serves an important role in the bird’s activities. Feathers help birds fly, but they also help them show off, blend in, stay warm, and keep dry. Some feathers have evolved as specialized airfoils for efficient flight. Others have developed into extreme ornamental forms that may even hinder mobility. Often we can readily tell how a feather functions, but sometimes the role of a feather is mysterious and we need a good scientific study to fill in the picture.

Launch the immersive What Feathers Do Interactive Feature section. Launch Now
What Feathers Do 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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