Tag Archives: Identify a feather

How Can I ID a Feather?

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Feather identification (Photo: Wiki Commons).

Quick Tips for IDing a Feather

If you're like me, you hike through the woods looking around for neat rocks, stones, shells, and feathers just like a magpie. I have a reason to collect, because I teach with what I find, so I don't just pick up stuff (and my institution has a permit for whatever I collect). However, for many people they just like to look for neat things in the woods as they hike or seek solitude. One of the most popular posts on this site has been about the US Fish and Wildlife Service's Feather Atlas. I'll include more information about that particular resource, but I wanted to start with a quick  primer on the parts of a feather, and what you should be looking at when you find a feather and how to ID it.

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Picking a Feather off the Ground May Get You Jail Time

Migratory Bird Treaty Act Makes Collecting Bird Feathers Illegal, the Feather Atlas from USFWS Can Help

Often times when leading hikes I see visitors in my programs pick up bird feathers and want to know if they can take them home. I have to answer that by law, it's illegal. Most people are shocked to find out that picking up bird feathers, moving bird nests, or taking carcasses for stuffing is illegal. This is because of something called the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.

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Feather Types Commonly Found (USFWS)

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