Friday, September 15, 2023

Can anyone identify this magic feather?

Yesterday I posted a sync regarding Dumbo and the Tom Petty song "Learning to Fly" ("Further syncs: Alma 13, Tom Petty, Dumbo, Melchizedek").

In the movie, Dumbo is given a "magic feather" -- a tail feather taken from the crow Specks -- and told that it will enable him to fly. In fact this is just a psychological trick, intended to give Dumbo the confidence to attempt flight, and in the end he discovers that he can fly even without the feather.


This morning, when I went out, I found a large nearly-black feather on my doorstep.


It's not a crow feather -- I've never seen a single crow in my nearly 20 years in Taiwan -- but I can't for the life of me figure out what kind of feather it is! Night heron feathers would be white at the tip. On a dove feather, the anterior vane would be much narrower than the posterior. (Very few birds I know of would have the two vanes so equal in width, especially on a long tapered feather.) No local bird of prey would have solid-colored feathers. Myna feathers always have some white on them. It's much too tapered to belong to a moorhen or anything like that, and again there's the issue of the equally wide vanes. The degree of curvature seems highly unusual, as does the very short calamus on such a long feather. I'm completely stumped!

Searchable online feather atlases are mostly limited to North American birds, but I tried using one anyway to see if I could at least narrow things down to a family or something. No luck.

I welcome hypotheses from any ornithologically inclined readers.

1 comment:

WanderingGondola said...

The curvature might suggest it's a tail feather? Other than that I have little idea. Last night I briefly looked up Taiwanese birds, there's quite a range. The black drongo got my attention for its name... I'd only known drongo as local slang.

Funny thing is I encountered my own black feather this morning, sitting at the grass's edge along the footpath across the street from my house. It's probably from one of our magpies, though can't rule out a crow.

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