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Identifying bottomless feathers

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 this bottomless feather?

Robin feathers from Shenandoah

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

The secret garden

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.

A cabinet of feathers

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.

The feather enthusiast’s reading list

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.

A little poem

I recently found a poem that I wrote three years ago in eighth grade. Keeping in character, I chose to write about birds in an endeavor (that is ongoing to this day) to inject birds into as many of my school assignments as possible. This assignment in particular asked for a “reverso” poem, one that… Continue reading A little poem

Bald Eagles in Ottawa!

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!

What’s up with craft store feathers?

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 misconceptions about what they really are.

Unusual Blue Jay feathers: part two

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 in the world if you ask me)! Drawing from the museum’s collection of Blue Jay spread wings and study skins, I looked for any specimens that shared the unusual patterns.

Confusing Corvids

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!

An unusual find in Texas…

…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…