Compared to fur or human hair
feathers are a smart affair.
As down, their fluffy unzipped form
of under-feathers, keeps birds warm.
But barbs and barbules, shaft and quill
hide clues to how birds fly with skill.
Their contour feathers, zipped and long
make wafting wings so light yet strong.
From dowdy mums to vivid males
with crazy crests and splendid tails;
for camouflage or bright display
feathers have lots of roles to play.
by Celia Berrell
First published in Double Helix (September 2015)
Reproduced with permission of CSIRO
Take Note: from pillows to pens, feathers have helped humans sleep well and become educated! Recently we learnt that some dinosaurs were feathered too. Compared to fur, feathers are fascinatingly complex and some are almost magically colourful. I find feathers fabulously beautiful.