For the 2013 county fair, Olivia will be entering a new item: her feather collection. For several years, she has been finding feathers when we have gone on nature walks. With the exception of the peacock feather, most of them are ones that have been found right here at the farm.
Olivia's collection of feathers.
Seeing the variety of feathers in a collection - each with their own, unique pattern - makes us appreciate the diversity of birds that have visited the farm.
A closer view of some of the feathers.
The dark feathers are stronger than white feathers.
The dark pigment melanin provides strength,
according to Kate St. John on KQED's Outside My Window.
The Raptor Research Center notes that "...the number of feathers on a bird varies from species, size, sex, age, health, season, and temperature of habitat. Most songbirds have between 1,500 and 3,000 feathers. The lowest recorded number is 940 for a hummingbird and the highest is 25,216 for a swan. Most birds have more feathers in winter for additional insulation against the cold."
The next step of the collections project is to determine from which type of bird each feather came. Categorizing and grouping is something that Olivia enjoys doing...so this next part of the project should be very interesting for her. It's a great way to combine science and math with something she likes: feathers.