THE GIFT

August for many birds is molting time. Which makes sense when you think about it. If you were going to undress you’d want to do it in the hottest month!

Romeo dropped a large primary feather tonight!

As a photographer I do something most do not do. I keep both eyes open when I shoot. Watch anyone taking a shot and 99% of them will be closing one eye. My photographic instructor is the only other person I know of that shot with both eyes open. The advantage of doing this is you can see far more on the periphery! (my dominant eye is my right with my left being secondary)

I bring this up because If I had my left eye closed I would never of seen the primary feather drop! As Romeo went past my right eye was tracking/shooting him but my left eye saw that primary feather fall.

A eagle has over 7000 feathers but there are only 5 large feathers on each wing . They are called the “primaries”. There are also 12 large white tail feathers.

I’ve looked at my shots and figure the feather that fell was the second primary on his left wing.

I consider it a honour when one of my eagle friends gives me a feather but of course they do not chose to just get rid of it. It’s just shear fluke to be honest! At any rate I love recieving them!

I also play a game at this time of year. When one of my molting friends zips past there is usually a light fluffy piece of down released! It drifts downwind. The game I talk about is me trying to grab that piece of downy fluff before it hits the water! I missed two of them last night.

HUNTING ME DOWN

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The Daredevil likes to chase after me. He most certainly is a Daredevil,which is why I gave him that name!

The average eagle has 7000 feathers but only 12 are large and white. The tail feathers are very important to them! Tail feathers act like a rudder on a boat.They use them to steer with. You can see in the first shot the tail feathers tilted. He was making adjustments while chasing me. When he wants to slow down he will flair them.This captures more air and thus slows him down.

The largest feathers are the “primaries”,which are at the end of the wing.There are 10 primaries at the end of each wing,but the end 5 are the largest. They give lift and stability. Notice the shape of the primaries on his lefthand side. See how thin the shaft is and further down it widens. I’ve talked to a friend who is a bird expert about this “thinning”. He believes they are normally this shape but I wonder if its because of wearing? During moulting season (August) they loose many feathers but also do loose them individually during the year. There are smaller feathers growing underneath in behind that will eventually replace the feather being used for flight.

UPDATE – It appears the thinning of the feathers near the end of the wing are normal and not wearing. This narrowing is called “Emargination” on the anterior side and “Notch” on the posterior side. It allows for extra lift and maneuverability.