What is plumage?

What Does plumage Mean

The plumage is made up of the feathers that cover the body of a bird. A feather, meanwhile, is a horny structure that has a tube or barrel embedded in the skin and an axis that protrudes and exhibits barbels.

All the feathers of an animal , taken together, make up the plumage. It is important to note that each species has a specific plumage, with different colors, patterns and characteristics in general.
For the bird, the plumage is a very important resource since it provides protection against cold and water and helps to facilitate its flight . On the other hand, the human being , especially in the field of ornithology , analyzes this plumage to recognize the different species and subspecies.

In many cases, the study of the plumage also allows us to know if the specimen is experiencing any disease . It even provides data on your gender and age .
The plumage also fulfills other functions. It can be used for sexual attraction , as a tool to intimidate or as a camouflage , to name a few possibilities.
At present, birds are the only animals with feathers; In the past, it is estimated that dinosaurs also had feathers on some parts of their bodies, although they probably did not exhibit full plumage. This difference with the rest of the species is also reflected in the functions that their feathers fulfill, some of which are mentioned above. The flight is undoubtedly the most characteristic, and this is achieved thanks to the rigidity of the wings that are located, which allow the whole body to be propelled upwards "leaning" on the air.
With regard to body heat, the plumage has various types of feathers, and among them are those that are responsible for thermal regulation. For example, the so-called semi-feathers retain hot air pockets, whose temperature can also regulate depending on the time of year and your particular needs. They do this with very characteristic rapid movements, which we can especially appreciate during winter.
Another function related to inclement weather is protection against the wind, which can slow down thanks to the force of some of its feathers. They also avoid the negative effects of the sun and the accumulation of humidity that rain could bring; The latter are achieved by means of special feathers that repel water and prevent it from penetrating the rest of the plumage.
We must not forget that some birds can swim. For this, the plumage is also essential, since they act as small fins that help propel their body forward. A clear example of this ability is found in penguins, excellent natural swimmers.

The plumage also serves to allow the bird to float on the water , something that is normally seen in ducks. If the water is cold, then the thermal regulation kicks in to counteract the low temperatures. The grouse , a galliform bird native to Eastern Europe, has its legs covered with feathers, something that is accentuated in winter to facilitate movement through the snow, since the size of its legs increases.
Typically, birds develop a process known as plumage shedding . This implies that, at least once a year, they lose their feathers and replace them with new ones.
Plumage is called, on the other hand, the plume that is placed as ornamentation on helmets and hats . In the Roman Empire , for example, the helmets of soldiers had different plumage. Thanks to these plumes, it was possible to differentiate between centuries , legions and other military units.

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