Which birds have the most and the least feathers?

The number of feathers that a bird has varies according to their species, size, age, sex, metabolism, health and the current season. In addition to these factors, however, adult birds of any given species at any given time of the year can still have a different number of feathers.

In general, the whistling swan is believed to have the highest number of feathers, with a total of 25,216 counted on one bird. Nearly 80% of these were on the head and long neck. This type of swan is also known as the Tundra Swan.

On the other end of this extreme is the ruby-throated hummingbird, with a feather count of only 940 on one specimen. However, the hummingbird possesses more feathers per gram of body weight than swan. Another interesting fact about hummingbirds is that they can hover in mid-air, which is something else one might want to read about.

Of course, the bigger a bird is the more feathers it would have. Penguins have several small feathers over their whole bodies, with one specimen even having 80,000 feathers. Other specimens had considerably fewer feathers, though. Still, the number of feathers on a penguin has to be quite vast so that the bird remains insulted and safe from water even in a harshly cold climate.

Some may also wonder which was the largest animal with feathers? If we take prehistoric species into account, this may have been a dinosaur. Research on dinosaur bones now shows that their closest living ancestors are birds, so it’s probable that these prehistoric creatures had feathered bodies.

Those who are interested in learning more about birds will be able to find a lot of relevant books online. Some of these include the following:

Where to Buy
The Everything Bird Book by Tershia D'Elgin
The Genius of Birds by Jennifer Ackerman 
The Great Book of Birds


The Everything Bird Book by Tershia D’Elgin

This book helps us identify birds and also gives a few guidelines on how to take proper care of them. It discusses the evolution of these feathered creatures as well as their autonomy and the type of flight for different species. It mainly focuses on North American birds along with giving tips on bird watching.

However, keep in mind that this work is mainly about wild birds in the outdoors. The section on domestic birds is quite small, so you might want to go for a more comprehensive book if that’s your main goal.

The Genius of Birds by Jennifer Ackerman  

This work is about a science writer who travels the world to get answers about the world of birds. Since birds have displayed several instances of amazing mental prowess, this book makes for a fascinating read for anyone who’s remotely interested in these creatures.

In addition to talking about her travels, the author here also mentions the research done about the bird brain and what that means for our definition of intelligence. We might want to know about which bird lays the largest egg, but this book gives us a wealth of information as well as an enjoyable reading experience.  It will help us realize just how intelligent birds are, having their own patterns, learning behaviors, etc.

There aren’t many pictures in this book, only some sketches at the beginning of every chapter. However, the point of the work is to learn about birds in great depth. Some might find the writing a little dry, but she does make the research on our feathered friends very accessible.  If we want to have pictures of birds and learn how to recognize the various species, we’d have to get something like the book discussed below.

The Great Book of Birds: The Comprehensive Illustrated Guide to 600 Species and Their Environments by Sandro Ruffo

Both old and young readers will find the rich illustrations and comprehensive research of this guide useful and entertaining. It gives us separate profiles of how different species feed, breed, and have unique behavioral traits. We might also be able to find out if any bird is poisonous or otherwise dangerous in any way. 

Reviews online have mentioned how this work has fascinated children as well as adults who want to recognize different bird species and know more about them. Moreover, the pictures are brilliantly-colored and very lifelike, helping us absorb the knowledge better.

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