Some mute swan feathers that have been gathering dust the past year are finally getting put to artistic use. I love the way their body feathers (the ones I used for the background in this piece) do a 180 degree curve. This really helps the bird to puff up and trap air. All swan feather vanes (the flat part of a feather) are so thin you can look right through them to see the shapes of what’s behind the feathers. Swans are big tough birds and they need tough durable feathers to keep warm, water repellent, and migrate. Their feathers do seem to wear out faster than some other birds. Besides being thin, white is the least durable of feather color. That’s because the proteins that cause darker coloration also add strength to a feather. It’s curious why these feathers are built so seemingly thin and delicate compared to other feathers. I am waiting to hear from several biologists who I have asked why this is so with swans. I’ll report back if I hear anything definitive.