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Home Adaptations Feathers
Barn owl feather

A feather is a unique adaptation. Only birds have feathers.

A feather's lightweight, durable structure is made mostly of keratins. You have some of this the same substance on your body. But for you, keratins take the form of fingernails instead of feathers.

Keratins are long-lasting, strong, and resistant to attack by enzymes or fungi, making them excellent building blocks for feathers.


  • The combined weight of all the feathers on a bird is twice or three times the weight of the bird's skeleton.

  • Once a feather is completely grown, it dies.

  • A feather can't be repaired – it can only be replaced by growing a new one, which is why birds spend so much time preening their feathers!

  • An owl's feathers are specially adapted to enable the owl to fly silently.

  • A Tundra Swan has approximately 25,000 feathers, and of those, 20,000 feathers are located on its head and neck.


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