Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Mystery Feathers


I came across these feathers in piney woods today and now wish I'd collected some of the smaller fluffy ones in the same vicinity. (It wasn't a kill site - more like a dining station.) I doubt that I can find the site again since I was really meandering. Anyway, I've looked in the reference books and checked online as well, and am stumped as to what bird they may have come from. Any guesses?

18 comments:

  1. Susan, I havent' looked up anything yet, but these feathers do look a lot like chicken feathers. The general color pattern is common in female "Easter eggers" (blue-green egg layers) and brown leghorns, among others.

    ReplyDelete
  2. If I were to wager a guess, I would say these at least came from a medium-large bird, and from the wings. I'm not sure about chickens, but I'd be interested in learning about what owl, hawk, turkey, grouse feathers look like.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Though I did check and rule out the birds you listed, Alyssa, I hadn't even considered that the feathers might be from a chicken. It's a good theory, Janet, because I wasn't all that far from a barn where I know chickens are kept.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Ken commented:

    "Looking at the size and pattern I would like to suggest wild turkey which are very common here."

    ReplyDelete
  5. http://www.lab.fws.gov/featheratlas/index.php

    I have posted this reference before. Very helpful, from the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Lars

    ReplyDelete
  6. That is very useful, Lars. Susan, looking at that link and at Elbroch's Bird Tracks and Sign, the only thing I can find that almost fits is American Bittern, which would not be around here at this time of year. So I'm stickin' with chickin for now.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Elbroch's "Bird Tracks & Sign" is a terrific resource as well. But neither is any good at chicken i.d. We will have to rely upon Janet for that.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Yeah, I thought so too, Janet, about the bittern. Also gave the whip-poor-will a second look. I have come to terms with the fact that my exciting feather find wasn't so exciting after all. In an effort to redeem myself, I will share an interesting little news clip, still on the subject of chickens... http://articles.boston.com/2012-02-20/metro/31077848_1_thin-ice-chicken-ice-boat

    ReplyDelete
  9. From Ken:

    I have a friend whu runs a chicken ranch in Acushnet and was also at Woodstock and a friend to James Taylor,Elton John and Arlo Guthrie.She also worked as a
    cook at the origional Alices Restaurant.But I digress.LOL Here's an expert opinion on those Mystery Feathers:"I believe these are young turkey feathers. I see these around the field when I walk the dog, turkeys will grow feathers and loose them as their bodies grow. Before they are adults, they might grow four sets of feathers, each set larger as their bodies grow.They seem to be too large for quail and the markings are not the same."

    ReplyDelete
  10. Are you suggesting they are from a domesticated turkey? The reason I ask is that wild turkeys would be adults by now, I think, and those feathers appear to be in too good shape to have been lying around in the woods since summer.

    ReplyDelete
  11. They are definitely fresh - as were the many fluffy small feathers in among the ones I collected. I've sent an e-mail with one of the photos to the owner of the chicken flock nearest the site. We'll see if she recognizes them.

    ReplyDelete
  12. http://www.amazon.com/Bird-Feathers-American-Species-Ornithology/dp/0811736180/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1330782035&sr=8-1


    I just found this book while looking for something else, and I can't wait to purchase it!

    ReplyDelete
  13. End of Story:

    Feathers positively identified as being from the tail of an 8-year-old ameraucana chicken. May she - or at least her spirit - rest in peace.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Well, 8 yrs is a pretty darn good life for a chicken. Bless her soul.

    Alyssa, thanks for the book reference. Can't wait for my copy to arrive.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hi Susan:
    Wanted to thank you and Janet for a fantastic tracking seminar out at the Oxbow today. My husband and I learned so much for you both. Mary Holland's blog is: http://naturallycuriouswithmaryholland.wordpress.com

    Joyce

    ReplyDelete
  16. You're very welcome, Joyce. I think we had a really good group for the outing. Both Donna (alas, no Janet today!) and I appreciated the interest and enthusiasm shown by everyone. And thanks for the blog address. I'll be sure to check it out.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. oops sorry Donna :) Don't know why I had Janet on the brain. Maybe because I was reading some of her posts

      Delete
    2. No worries! I didn't even notice the mistake and am glad you both enjoyed yourselves on the walk.

      Delete