Birds have something that no other animal has—a covering of feathers.  These feathers help birds to fly and also keep them warm.  Birds have two main kinds of feathers:  “contour” and “down”.

The large, outer feather that cover the wings, body and tail of a bird are

Bird

called “contour” feathers.  These feathers streamline the body and help the bird fly smoothly through the air.

“Down” feathers are the soft, fluffy feathers found under the outer feathers.  Down feathers provide warmth.

Waterbirds have extra-thick coats of down.  That is why the ducks we see in the wintertime padding about in icy water are not cold.

The entire covering of feathers is called the “plumage.”

Feathers wear out, just as clothes do, and need to be replaced.

Birds lose an their feathers at least once a year and replace them with new ones.  This change of feathers is a process called “molting”.  – Dick Rogers

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