Saturday, 11 July 2009

Preening Feathers

Once again I am stuck indoors. A few weeks ago it was gout now, for some unknown reason, the Achilles tendon on my right foot is giving me grief.

Yesterday I noticed a couple of Collared Doves sat on top of the fruit cage and one spent at least five minutes preening. This is something all birds have to do to keep their feathers in top notch condition. It is fascinating watching them carefully arrange their feathers and zip up their flight feathers by drawing them through their beak.

You can see this happen when the dove works on its tail feathers. Phil at Beyond the Human Eye wrote about the technicalities of this process in his entry Zipping Up a Feather along with some macro photos of a feather. If you find a wing or tail feather you can try the process for yourself. If you gently pull along the feather from tip to quill the sections will separate and when you pull the other way they zip back together.

Further detailed information about feathers can be found at with explanations of the different types of feather.


  1. John...I've been on the sidelines too with a torn Plantar Fascia ligament in my left foot. Severe arthritis in the right foot from an accident way back in 1985 has become almost unbearable because I can't use my left foot. A total really stunts the birding! Oh will heal eventually! I hope yours does faster than mine. Interesting about the feather. I will have to try it with one I find along the way.

  2. Hi Kelly. It is a little better today thank you. It sounds as though we can't make one good pair of legs between us. Hope yours doesn't take too long to heal. It is really frustrating when I have to think twice about walking to the village shop.
    At least I can observe the local birds from the kitchen window.

    I've done that 'trick' with flight feathers several times. They really do latch back in shape with little effort.

  3. Sorry to hear about the foot John, but glad it is a little easier today. Nice video, I have noticed in my garden they do seem to spend an awful lot of time preening. I had to smile when the other Dove kept popping into view, it seemed to be very curious about what the preening one was doing.

  4. Entertaining and informative, which is how knowledge should be presented, thank you.

  5. Goodmorning John...I woke to a lovely day here in Victoria. My oldest has headed over to one of our little Islands just off ours for a weekend Soccer camp. So my little guy and I are headed out eventually this morning on the scooter. Checked out my blog mail and noticed that your were talking about fresh Raspberries and how you can just go out and pick them fresh!!! Wow that would be sooo nice to be able to do that...I remember as a child hiding among the Rasperberrie bushes at my Aunts thinking she couldn't see me...while she called my name asking where I was, when she knew exactly where I was..One of my fondest memories as a child. Sorry to hear about your foot...I know what a pain it is to have your body complain and keeping you from the thing you love to do. I enjoyed the post today and I will if I run accross a feather examine it much more closely!! Very cool

  6. Thanks Jan. It seems to be easing slowly. I was at a bit of a loss as what to put up today and the Collared Dove seemed the best. Sometimes it is nice to get a closer look at what is going on. I think those two are a pair as they spent a lot of time together. Maybe No. 2 was pointing out to No. 1 that it had missed a feather. :)

  7. Thank you Adrian. You are too kind.

  8. Hi Crista. There is nothing quite like picking, and eating, home grown fruit. Most of mine was a disaster this year but the Raspberries and Blackcurrants did manage to fruit for me. I don't think anyone will be hiding in my Raspberry canes as most of them have small, but sharp, thorns.

    Funnily enough my foot is worst after resting it. A few minutes hobbling about eases it for a while so I did manage to get half the grass cut before the rain arrives tonight.

    Pleased you enjoyed the bit of everyday video happenings. To think that for the first year I had the camcorder I used it once. Today I reformatted the DVD in it for the seventh time this year.

    Hope your eldest enjoys his soccer camp and that you had a great day out.

  9. Sorry you are confined to the house, John. Nice video and feathers are so interesting!

  10. Hope the foot gets better soon John.

    Interesting video, and like ShySongbird mentioned, the other dove looked like he wanted to get in the picture. :)

  11. Thank you Mick. Touch wood, the foot seems a lot better this evening. It is hard to remember just how painful it was on Friday morning.

  12. Thanks Keith. The foot seems to be recovering faster than I expected as Friday morning the pain was so intense I nearly fell flat on my face when I got out of bed on Friday.

    Glad you liked the video. I was in two minds whether to put it up.

  13. Wishing you well John :-)

    Great video... recently I watched Alfred Hitchcock's 'The Birds' with my daughters. I am now a tad worried... our lonesome Collared dove visitor has company now! Today I counted five :-0

  14. Thank you Shirl. Improving already I'm pleased to say.

    It reminds me of that film every time the Starlings gather on the top of the Leylandii waiting for me to refresh the feeders.

    Not so many years ago the Collared Doves were rare here. Now they are everywhere. No need to be afraid - just double the order of bird food. :)


Thank you for visiting. Hope you enjoyed the pictures. Any comment, or correction to any information or identification I get wrong, is most welcome. John

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