Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Nature's variety.


At this time of the year, when the leaves are turning and the last of the chrysanthemums and asters and dahlias are blooming, we tend to notice and extol the virtues of Autumn colour. The maple/acer trees are now at their very best and the colour is spectacular.
But, walking round the fields today I picked up these five feathers and it struck me that, although we admire birds greatly and marvel at their markings, they are after all the sum total of their thousands of feathers, each one marked out in such a way that together they make a pattern which is unique to that particular bird.
I have asked two countrymen (the farmer and the builder, both born and brought up in the Dales and both involved with wildlife) to identify the feathers - in some cases their answer is not the same. It might be easy to identify the shape, the beak, the overall markings and colours, so that one can see a bird at the bird table and be certain exactly what bird it is. But when it comes down to an individual feather - that is much harder.
So here they are. Reading left to right - the first one is definitely from a Great Tit - it was caught by the sparrow hawk, plucked and eaten - I saw it happen and am in no doubt about the feather. The second one we are all agreed is from a Greater Spotted Woodpecker. The third one the farmer thinks may be from a mallard. When the light catches it it has a distinct green hue over it. The fourth one the farmer thinks is probably a curlew. The builder thinks that both three and four are owl feathers. The fifth one is probably from a stock dove - I love that one; it might be an ordinary sort of bird, hardly noticed as it goes about its business, but those subtle gradations of coloour are beautiful, aren't they?
Anyone got other ideas (G if you are reading this what do you think?)
Wherever they originate - I'm sure we all agree on one thing - nature has the most wonderful variety.
##If you were interested in yesterday's post about Savile Row then please go back and look at the comments as Adam, himself a tailor on Savile Row, has made such a good point that it is well worth looking at.

44 comments:

Linda said...

I went online to see if I could find out more about bird feathers after reading your post and I discovered in the US, it is illegal to be in the possession of bird feathers for the purpose of educating people. You need a special permit, even if the feathers came from your own property. I do not know if Canada has the same laws. I wonder why? I was only looking up basic information about feathers. Nice collection, Weaver.

ArtPropelled said...

Lovely post, Weaver. Do you have Guinea Fowl in Britain? I love finding guinea fowl feathers.

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

Interesting post Weaver. Interesting how sometimes we know the whole and not the part - whereas, it seems to me, we usually are quite aware of the part and miss the whole.

I was struck by how a good portion of your post could be applied to humans as well as birds.

Lucy Corrander said...

I've seen a spotted woodpecker - though not its feather.

I've heard a curlew - though never seen the bird.

Feathers seem magical, regardless from which bird they have fallen.

Lucy

Derrick said...

Hello Weaver,

Strange how a small part of the whole can give a very different impression. I admire anyone who can tell a bird from just one feather! They are very attractive.

Wild Somerset Child said...

I know 2 is a g.s.woodpecker; I think 3 is certainly from a duck but not a mallard, four could be a buzzard (I don't think it is rounded enough for an owl) and 5 I am sure is a wood pigeon. I'll go and look at the buzzard feather I found the other day in the garden.

I remember finding feathers from a fieldfare after a sparrowhawk strike and at first not being able to identify them, until I looked closely up into the apple trees next time a flock flew in and saw their underparts.

Crafty Green Poet said...

I've collected some wonderful bird feathers recently and should do a similar post. Two of mine are probably from the wing coverts of a jay and are the most amazing blue... The RSPB community area in their website has a discussion board for 'identify this bird?' and it includes 'identify this feather' posts.

Heather said...

I thought 'owl' when I saw those feathers, but on reflection I think the farmer is right. Owls are usually cream/buff/brown with varied bars and speckles, but it is a very long time since I have seen one. All we get in our garden is pigeon feathers in all shapes and sizes. They float down like snowflakes sometimes, as the birds chase eachother overhead.

Amy said...

I've seen those feathers before here too but not sure which birds they are from...

Crafty Green Poet said...

btw my feathers are here: http://craftygreenpoet.blogspot.com/2009/10/feathers.html

Lisa at Greenbow said...

What a beautiful collection of feathers. From left Great Tit, Woodpecker, Unknown, Owl, and the last one, if I saw it here in the states I would say turkey.

Raph G. Neckmann said...

How beautiful, Weaver! It always amazes me how much beauty is in things that are often not seen - such detail, pattern - marvellous!

(I think number 2 would look very dashing if I wore it behind my ear!)

Midlife Jobhunter said...

You post too fast for me! I can't keep up and I'm so sorry whenever I've missed one.

Always curious about what I don't know so will have to read back. Also, will now be aware to look for feathers rather than just hearing them.

Midlife Jobhunter said...

I meant rather than just listening to the birds. See, going too fast.

Arija said...

I love your feathery foray... some feathers seem to be self explanatory by their colour or structure, others can be as you say, quite perplexing and all of them make up one or other perfect bird. Mother Nature as always is an artist with infinite attention to detail.

Cloudia said...

Feathers were the stuff of the resplendent and priceless capes the Hawaiian royals alone could wear......

Aloha, Friend!

Comfort Spiral

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Weaver…for what my opinion is worth, I'd have to say #3 does not look much like a mallard feather to me, neither in shape nor coloration. As a near-lifelong fly tyer (flies for trout fishing) I have used all sorts of waterfowl feathers, including lots from mallards. Granted, they have a number of different feather types and shapes and color patterns, but I don't remember that particular one. (I wouldn't bet the farm on it, though.)

Feather #4 does indeed look like an owl to me. But that's really only a guess. I've picked up and examined various owls along roadways, and several of the ones we have over here certainly resemble the one in your photo.

Leilani Lee said...

Hi Weaver... Having kept guinea fowl for several years I immediately thought the spotted one might be that (but obviously not)and the big striped one looks like an owl feather or hawk, but your birds there are different than ours here.

Golden West said...

Remarkable, really, in their design. Keeping the birds warm and dry, colored to attract mates, or to deceive predators.

Janice Thomson said...

A delightful array from our fine feathered friends. It's neat to enjoy these little treasures from them.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Linda - Isn't that strange? After all, these feathers were picked up in the fields after the birds had discarded them during moulting I presume.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Robyn - I love guinea fowl too - yes we do have them - not wild but as domestic fowl. I keep trying to persuade the farmer to let me have some but he says they are too noisy. I love their feathers too and their shape.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Bonnie - good point.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Yes Lucy I agree. I keep trying to leave a comment on your site but have no luck although I do still look at your pictures.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Derrick - it just astonishes me that each tiny feather has its own special pattern - it somehow reminds me of the patterns in a kaleidescope.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Wild somerset child - the general concensus of opinion is that number three is not from a duck.
Shall pop over and see you sometime - thank you for visiting.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Juliet - I shall pop over and look at the feathers shortly.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Heather - dare I say it - the birds that drive us mad are the collared doves - to think that a few years ago they were rare - now we sometimes have eleven at our bird table.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thanks for the comment Amy.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Lisa - we don't have wild turkey here unfortunately. I did see one when I was in the US earlier this year - it didn't look the kind that one would eat on Thanksgiving though - it was rather skinny.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Raph - I am sure you are fascinated by pattern - there is no more beautiful nor complicated pattern than the skin of a giraffe.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Midlife job hunter - sorry about blogging too fast - you will be pleased to hear that I am having a day off today - the builders have gone at last and I am busy clearing up.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Arija - hope you are feeling better now. Yes I agree about Nature's infinite variety - the pattern of everything is amazing.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Cloudia - how interesting. I didn't know that and yet when I thought about it I seem to think I have seen photographs of them in the past.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Scribe - you are quite correct - the general concensus of opinion is that number three is not duck at all - but no one seems absolutely sure what it is. My very keen birdwatching friend says that number four is not an owl (several comments say the same) she is pretty sure it is a curlew (curlew are common in our fields - they nest on the ground there in Summer and flock to feed there in Winter). Do you have curlew in US?

The Weaver of Grass said...

Yes Leilani Lee - we saw some beautiful birds in US earlier this year - the one I envy you having most of all is the wonderful red cardinal. I wish we had him over here - I love the grackles too - they make such an amazing noise when they roost in the evening.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Golden West - yes, when you think about it the feather has so many uses.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Janice - I think it is lovely to collect all kinds of things like this - found objects I think they are called these days. When I see the wonderful things Robyn of Art Propelled makes to house collections of found objects it makes me keen to collect them too.

Totalfeckineejit said...

Variety is the spice of life Weaver, and knowing all these birds should be a feather in your cap, but I fear you may be all wrong about them.My favourite, the spotty one, is from the lesser greater spotted Katangler warbler bird (precarious corvus copius)that makes a sound like a crow.The first feather is from a Total Tit ( Geoferus Archeri)The second one is from The inflatusopera bird (Kirius Te Kanawai)The third one is from a Wellhard duck(Duckus Pugilistio)The fourth ine is clearly from a Fecku wagtail (Idon givadamnus) and the ast one is a Love Dove(Kissi Kissius)

Golden West said...

Hi Weaver,

The city is Los Angeles. We were in the old core of the city, far from Beverly Hills and Hollywood and the upbeat places shown in movies and television. The old part of the city is far from vibrant now and I fear any kind of renaissance is mostly wishful thinking.

Poet in Residence said...

Our two crows may leave a single black feather lying in a peculiar place almost as if its deliberately placed there for us to find, perhaps a kind of present or reward for feeding them I sometimes think.
I can't think why else they would do it.

The Weaver of Grass said...

TFE - your sense of humour has renamed those feathers to perfection!

The Weaver of Grass said...

Poet - I am so pleased to hear that you feed crows. The crow family are my favourite birds and they always get such a bad press. I shall continue to think that your crows leave a feather now and again as a thank you present - lovely thought.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

I opening a library book the other night in bed, and out came a feather. I took it as a sign of good fortune!