Feathering plan: types and function

Hwa Ja Götz (MfN) and Carola Radke (MfN)

Museum für Naturkunde Berlin

Museum für Naturkunde Berlin
Berlin, Germany

One feather does not resemble another. There are basically two types of feathers — down feathers, consisting of tufts of barbules — and contour feathers.
These include all feathers with a central shaft (rachis). The asymmetrical flight feathers are divided into remiges on the wings and rectrices on the tail.
In numbers they only make up a small proportion of a bird‘s plumage. A songbird may have up to 4,600 feathers. Smaller body feathers make up 99% of the total.

Primaries and Secondaries - Generation of lift

Greater upper wing coverts and Greater primary coverts - Coverage of the wing

Rectrices - steering and landing

Down feathers - isolation and shape

and small contour feathers


  • Title: Feathering plan: types and function
  • Creator: Hwa Ja Götz (MfN), Carola Radke (MfN)
  • Physical Location: Museum für Naturkunde, Invalidenstraße 43, 10115 Berlin
  • Rights: © Museum für Naturkunde. All rights reserved.


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