Illustrations by Felicity Rose Cole
Pheasant feather (above) Phasianus colchicus
A pheasant’s breast feather is orange with a black tip and brown base. Easy to ID when seen with other pheasant feathers on roadkill.
Goldfinch feather Carduelis carduelis
Goldfinch feathers show part of the yellow wing-bar on the secondary feathers, a white base and a white tip forming the wing’s white trailing edge.
Great spotted woodpecker feather Dendrocopos major
Great spotted woodpecker feathers (both primaries and secondaries) are black with large white spots to the edges.
Green woodpecker feather Picus viridis
Green woodpecker secondary feathers have a ladder pattern with moss green bars on one side of the shaft and white bars on the other.
Jay feather Garrulus glandarius
Jay feathers feature unique sky-blue barring on one side of the shaft of secondaries and on the primary coverts.
Mallard feather Anas platyrhynchos
The male mallard’s feathers from the speculum (the bright patch in the wings of most dabbling ducks) are partly purple or blue-green.
Woodcock feather Scolopax rusticola
Secondary woodcock feathers are strongly barred with a rufous ‘shark’s tooth’ pattern. Similar to pheasant feathers, but bars are incomplete.
Red-legged partridge feather Alectoris rufa
Red-legged partridge feathers from the flank have a ginger tip above a white-bordered black band; it forms the ‘tiger stripes’ on the living bird.
Magpie feather Pica pica
The classic magpie feather is long and narrow, with blue or green iridescence to the dark areas and variable amounts of white. These are the primaries.
Wood pigeon feather Columba palumbus
Wood pigeon tail feathers are long and rectangular with a broad, rounded end. Tip black, centre pale grey and base dark grey.
Tawny owl feather Strix aluco
Primary tawny owl feathers are reddish-brown or brown with dark bands; as in all owls, edges are softly fringed for silent flight.
Buzzard feather Buteo buteo
A buzzard’s primary feathers are dark-ended with dark barring; the feather base is largely pale with a grey-brown wash on the upper half.