Have you ever seen scraggly looking birds? Feathers missing on the wings, on the tail, and some that look like a whole different species because so many of their body feathers are gone? When feathers become bent, broken, worn-out, ragged, and lose their ability to protect the body, they must be replaced, as feathers cannot heal themselves. The replacement of all, or part of the feathers is called a molt. Birds molt once or twice a year depending on the habitat they live in. Molting is timed to meet various needs such as more feathers to insulate against the cold, brighter colors to achieve the ultimate breeding cycle, and to replace feathers they must use to fly. Birds are amazing, for molts will produce feathers that match their age, sex, and even the season. It takes a lot of energy for a bird to build new feathers. Birds spend a great deal of time preening, bathing, dusting, and caring for their feathers; their lives depend on them.
Birds have adapted to survive the wet jungles around the equator, to the frozen wastes of the Arctic and Antarctic because of their marvelous feathers. Bird feathers will shed moisture, protect from the sun, insulate from the cold, go easily through water, and simply adapted to every climate. Some birds shed all their feathers at one time and grow new ones. Other birds shed a feather at a time and replace individual feather shafts. Bird feathers are in a constant state of change.
So when you see a bird, any bird, even when it looks scraggly, think what a marvelous creation it is. Think of the clothing he wears which makes it possible for him to be adaptable to fly, swim, migrate, and survive throughout our whole world.
The Artists this week are Keith Davis and a few birds who flew through our yard. Plan on coming to our Opening Social and meet some new bird lovers who want to meet you and yours. Wednesday, September 8, 6:00 a.m. (earlier this time because we have food). It’s at the Tonaquint Nature Center, and bring a pot luck dish to share with your new friends. For more information, call Marilyn Davis 435 673-0996.