Picture this: you're walking down a trail, and a gorgeous feather catches your eye. You stop to look closer, and that's when you see it--the bottom half of the feather is missing, replaced with a shredded shaft, a weird bluish tube, or just a bloody pulp. What happened? And how are you supposed to identify… Continue reading Identifying bottomless feathers
I recently had the opportunity to take a hike through the Shenandoah National Park of Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains. Even in near-winter, the park looks absolutely stunning, with rushing mountain waterfalls and purple mountain majesty stretching into the horizon. The dense deciduous forest habitat seems to be a favorite of American Robins. Over the course… Continue reading Robin feathers from Shenandoah
During quarantine, I suddenly found myself with extra time on my hands. I studied my schoolwork, Zoomed into classes, and memorized Radiohead’s entire discography. But when my eyes grew tired from screens and the hollow strains of “Idioteque” faded from my headphones for the hundredth time, I started to crave something a little more real.… Continue reading The secret garden
Over the last few weeks, I've been working my way through a HarvardX course titled "Tangible Things." The course focuses on material culture--"stuff," in a word--and it's given me ample opportunity to reflect on the histories inherent in even the most mundane objects of everyday life. My most recent assignment involved putting together a "museum… Continue reading A cabinet of feathers
When it comes to learning about feathers, sometimes you just can't beat a book in terms of quality and convenience. With summer reading season in full swing, it seems like a fitting time to share some of my favorite books from my overstuffed bird bookshelf. I've linked each book's Amazon page in case you want… Continue reading The feather enthusiast’s reading list
A gem of a Common Raven feather that I observed in Big Bend National Park. National Parks, Wildlife Reserves, and Preserves are the lifeblood of our nation's natural resources, irreplaceable heirlooms from our land's genesis. I recently found a poem that I wrote three years ago in eighth grade. Keeping in character, I chose to… Continue reading A little poem
Do you love Bald Eagles? (The only acceptable answer is “yes.”) As the iconic emblem of the United States and an undeniably impressive raptor, I always find it a treat to spot these guys. I spent the first few days of September 2019 in Ottawa, IL, one of the first places I started truly birding.… Continue reading Bald Eagles in Ottawa!
If you've ever made a seasonal kid's craft, greeted garishly outfitted trick-or-treaters, or worn a feather boa, chances are that you've encountered craft feathers. You know, the ones that come in an array of fanciful, themed colors and, to be honest, look pretty cheap. Love 'em or hate 'em, there are an unfortunate number of… Continue reading What’s up with craft store feathers?
I recently had the opportunity to revisit the Blue Jay I wrote about in this post after consulting with the Delaware Museum of Natural History's Dr. Jean Woods (Curator of Birds). She recommended that I examine a larger sample size and allowed me to go upstairs into the collections (only one of the coolest places… Continue reading Unusual Blue Jay feathers: part two
You may already know this depending on your level of bird-nerdiness, but in some parts of the United States there are actually two different types of crows! Besides the standard American Crow, its cousin the Fish Crow can often be found around bodies of water, especially the coast. The folks living in the Pacific Northwest… Continue reading Confusing Corvids
Earlier this week, I came across a very interesting Blue Jay specimen while doing a presentation at the Delaware Museum of Natural History. These presentations usually entail me choosing several of the awesome specimens in the education collection (i.e. toucan bills, pheasant tails, and owl wings) and then pointing out their unique traits and adaptations.… Continue reading Unusual Blue Jay feathers: part one
...and why feather evidence isn't always reliable. In July of 2018, I had the opportunity to go birding in Big Bend National Park, an ecological gem situated in the big bend (how fitting!) of southwestern Texas. The trip involved a road-trip tour from Atlanta with my very patient father, seeking birds and their feathers all… Continue reading An unusual find in Texas…