October 4, 2009

Fine and Feathery

We were learning about animal adaptations.  My second grade girls were quite indignant when I explained that it is the male birds who have the most beautiful, colorful feathers. But then I explained that the female birds had duller colors because they had the important job of hatching the eggs.  They needed to blend into the environment to help keep the baby birds out of danger.  That made the second grade girls smile and sit up a little straighter!  (photo by Andrew Buckin, Dreamstime)

Other animals may wear scales, skin, hard shells, or fur, but only birds have feathers. 

A tiny hummingbird has from 1,000 to 1,650 feathers.  (photo by Rinusbaak, Dreamstime)

Songbirds the size of chickadees have as many as 4,500.

But swans top them all--they have more than 25,000 feathers!

Now at this point, I can't decide if  I want to tell you some more serious facts about feathers or some sort-of-dumb bird jokes that you've probably heard before, but can still laugh. (or not!)  So YOU decide.  The serious facts are in green print.  Skip them to get to the jokes!

Feathers range in size from 0.05 inches on a bird's eyelid to 5 feet long tail feathers on a peacock. Wow!

If a bird loses a feather, another one grows in its place.  They grow fast, too, as much as a quarter inch or more a day!  Feathers become worn and are replaced about once a year through a process called molting.

We bundle up with coats, hats, and mittens.  But a bird's feathers regulate its body temperature.  That's called thermoregulation.  Fluffing their feathers traps many tiny pockets of air to hold in body heat and keeps out the cold.  In hot weather, the bird presses its feathers close to the body to eliminate the insulating air pockets so body heat can escape.

A Few Sort-of-Dumb Bird Jokes:

What do you call a crate of ducks?  a box of quackers

What does a duck like to eat with soup?  quackers
What birds spend a lot of time on their knees?  birds of prey

Why did the chicken cross the basketball court?  He heard the referee call fouls.

What did the sick chicken say?  "I have people pox."

Who do seagulls live near the sea?  Because if they lived near the bay, they'd be called bagels.

Come on, smile just a little bit!  You know you want to!

1 comment:

  1. Hi, I was reading your blog and you seem adamant about birds. My mother has birds and butterflies in her yard all the time. It's mainly because she has a few bird feeders and a butterfly garden. She also takes photos of birds while she travels. I notice you seem to like swans as she has taken gorgeous photos of swans. I will send them to you if you want me to. My site is www.thetravellingtravelagent.com and my email is info@thetravellingtravelagent.com. Have a nice day.