The bird is recognized by its feathers. This is quite true, since of all living things, only birds have feathers, for which they are called feathered. Among birds, males usually have the richest and most striking appearance, pursuing an obvious goal - to become as attractive as possible for gray, inconspicuous females.
For beauty and not only
Of course, not only decorative goals were pursued by the birds, in the process of evolution they overgrown with feathers of the most fantastic colors. Although this is also an important factor in the first place, surprisingly enough, the main function of feathers is protection, no, not from the teeth of a predator, but from unfavorable atmospheric phenomena. The feather of a bird reliably protects it from excessive moisture, heat, cold and much more.
In turn, the bird, as far as possible, takes care of the feathers, carefully cleaning them from dirt and regularly lubricating them with special fat, which is secreted by its peri-tail glands.
Naturally, the bulk of birds can fly in this process, the help of feathers is simply invaluable. Not only does the feather cover give the bird an aerodynamically optimal streamlined shape, but also thanks to the grooves on the flight feathers, their special properties and location, significantly increase the lift in flight.
How did feathers appear?
Thus, the need for feathers in birds is not even disputed. Another question is, what are feathers and where did they come from? The first thing to push off is from the immediate ancestors of modern birds, namely from various dinosaurs and other dinosaurs. Since the current birds are their direct descendants. However, it is worth remembering the close relatives of birds - reptiles.
Bird feathers are nothing more than modified scales and they consist of the same substance - keratin. Keratin is a strong and resistant material formed from special cells. The feather, in turn, consists of a shaft and barbs protruding from it. Depending on the purpose of the feather and its location on the bird's body, it can be contour, flywheel, downy, threadlike, and so on.
Different feathers perform their own special functions, which, in turn, depend on the species of the bird and its lifestyle. Also, the number of feathers in different birds is different. Hummingbirds have the least of them. More in the tundra swan. However, this circumstance is understandable, since living in harsh conditions required the creation of a large number of down feathers.
The variety of colors of feathers of birds is simply amazing, not to mention the main color scheme, just right to be surprised at the number of all kinds of shades and halftones, which, of course, provides the birds with proper attractiveness, especially during the mating season.