The pin is mightier than the quill?

Feather development updates

The second hatched chick appears to be developing normally. Its feathers have been bursting out of their pins over the past week and are showing the characteristic dual colour of immature chicks – a buff edge surrounding a brown base. It spends a part of its day proudly preening the waxy cuticle away from the vanes, dropping a dusting of white flakes as if it had a bad case of dandruff,

Number three chick is very small for its age but seems quite over its illness now and like its sibling is shuffling around the nest, stretching its wings over its head and eating heartily. However, it comes to grief when it comes to the preening –   poor Three has hardly any pins, let alone feathers, to speak of. It goes through the motions, wriggling its beak through its thin covering of fluff, but obviously there is something missing in the experience. Yesterday it diligently started preening a neighbouring stalk of dried grass before realising its mistake.

Even taking into account the 3 days difference in hatch dates it is still behind in this area of development. We hope it is just the stress of its illness that has set it back and that it will develop feathers over the next couple of weeks.  An avian version of the hairless cat would have major aerodynamic difficulties.

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