1. erebh

    erebh Contributor Contributor

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    do birds have coats?

    Discussion in 'Research' started by erebh, Mar 17, 2013.

    very quick question that might sound silly but I can't find it anywhere. Animals have fur coats - would birds just have feathered coats?
     
  2. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Don't think so. I think it's just "feathered" birds.
     
  3. minstrel

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I have never seen the word "coat" in reference to a bird's feathers. I wouldn't use it even if it's considered technically correct among wildlife biologists. It would stick out like the proverbial sore thumb.
     
  4. erebh

    erebh Contributor Contributor

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    ok thanks - weird that we don't know for sure... Any ideas on how to describe what a bird wears?

    The lion's coat shone under the moonlight like a

    The bird's.............

    it all sounds weird to me...
     
  5. iolair

    iolair Active Member

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    Plumage
     
  6. Cogito

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Birds have down and feathers. The down is fine, fluffy feathers primarily to retain heat. The outer feathers feathers are stiffer, and often water-repellent. The feathers keep wind and water from penetrating the down.

    Plumage typically refer to the outer feathers, particularly those raised in display for aggression or courtship.
     
  7. mammamaia

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    if you want to wax somewhat poetic:

    the bird's feathery garb

    biblical:

    the bird's coat of many colors
     
  8. JayClassical

    JayClassical New Member

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    write it down anyways and the masses will accept it.
     
  9. thewordsmith

    thewordsmith Contributor Contributor

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    Most "smaller" bird species lose most of their down as they grow to maturity. The mature birds have a very thin downy layer close to the skin. These are the feathers they most often used to pad their nests at egg laying time to create a softer bed for their young. You may have heard the phrase "birds preening their feathers". This refers to a bird's process of using their beak to spread the oil produced on the skin throughout the feathers and, as needed, to clean that oil away. This helps the birds to regulate the heat retained or to cool them as needed. Birds of all feather, so to speak, utilize this process for cleaning purposes.

    You may have noticed at times how some birds appear to be "fluffier" than normal. This is because they have loosened the the oil in the feathers sufficiently to fluff the feathers and, thereby, create a thermal layer, much like a woven thermal blanket you might use, to retain more heat.

    Perhaps you've seen pictures of dead and/or dying birds covered in the sludge from an oil spill. This oil is far heavier than the birds' own body oils and, just like a human being, they 'breath' through pores in the skin as well as through their respiratory system. Also, water birds need to maintain a proper balance of oil to air pockets among their feathers in order to retain bouyancy. When their feathers become encased in the heavy oil sludge, they cannot loosen the feathers and, like the proverbial rock, they sink.

    That's the long form answer and, undoubtedly more than you wanted to know. (Quick question - long answer) The short form is, "No. Birds don't have coats. They have feathers."
    (Bats, btw, do have fur, though they are not, technically, birds but flying mammals.)
     
  10. AVCortez

    AVCortez Active Member

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    Only the fabulous ones.
     
  11. lettuce head

    lettuce head Active Member

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    Warped humor. Gotta love it.
     
  12. Jetshroom

    Jetshroom Active Member

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    I read Fur coat, I want to say Feather Boa.
     
  13. live2write

    live2write Senior Member

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    They are actually called Feathered Coats
     
  14. John Eff

    John Eff New Member

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    I've worked with birds for many years and have never heard their covering called anything other than 'feathers' or 'plumage'. If you have to give them a name, 'coat of' is as good as any.

    If it has any relevance to your research, some of the wordsmith's facts need correcting....birds do use down to line a nest, but don't get the idea they pluck their own - they need it. They'll use loose down (theirs or others') found lying around.

    Preening has nothing to do with regulating body temperature. It's for keeping the feathers free of parasites and in top condition, and they use oil from the preen gland (not the skin) which they work into the feathers to keep them waterproof. (This applies to the vast majority of birds, and there are birds without a preen gland who use a different method)

    If a bird needs to warm up it does so by raising the feathers (it can raise every single one of thousands individually) to trap a layer of air between them. To cool down, the bird pants or grabs a cold beer. No oil is involved in either process.
     

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