The Beauty And Function Of Feathers

In a new book, get a close look
The grey peacock-pheasant has two bright blue spots that look like eyes
The largest of the Asiatic pheasants, the grey peacock-pheasant sports tail feathers dotted with ocelli—round markings that look like an eye—which appear to change color in different light. During the male bird’s mating dance, he directs his colorful feathers toward the intended female. Robert Clark
Book cover for Feathers: Displays of Brilliant Plumage
Feathers: Displays of Brilliant Plumage Chronicle Books

Photographer Robert Clark gives us all a closer look at the sometimes flashy, sometimes practical art that is bird feathers. In his book, Feathers: Displays of Brilliant Plumage, to which science writer Carl Zimmer wrote the preface, Clark captures the beauty of more than 60 feathers, with a brief explanation about each.

The book, published by Chronicle Books, is now available.

Below are some of our favorite images and captions from the book.

The wilson's bird-of-paradise feather is a beautiful curlicue
This pigeon has a surprisingly beautiful bluish feather
The red-shafted flicker feather has an ombre coloring and comes to a point
The ostrich chick feather is a fluffy white plume
The king bird of paradise feather looks like a bright green rose
This junglefowl is has a spotty patterned feather
The common swift has a split feather
The blue-fronted amazon is brightly colored with yellow, red, and green pigments
The blood pheasant's feather is a lovely green