As clothes define the man, feathers define the bird. The Vulture with its head wrinkled and naked of feathers, is ominous and gruesome; the dazzling peacock, strutting and proud: the ebony-black American Crow, sleek and mythical. Specialized feathers work in groups to provide warmth and insulation; waterproofing; protection from harmful UV rays; and for all but a small number of unfortunate species, that most magical and oft imagined power of flight.

 

...a feather for each wind that blows...   Shakespeare