A very large down feather / by Chris Maynard

The biggest, fluffiest down feathers that I know of grow under the tail of a male peacock. They stick out from the back of the male bird when it is displaying. Since in India where they are from, peacocks don’t have a lot of need to protect against cold, perhaps they use them for display? They are rather prominent, but only from the back-side. So why are they on the rear-end if the business side of the peacock display is the front? Unlike this down feather built around a long central shaft, the lightest of down has hardly any central shaft at all, just long fluffy barbs coming off a shaft so short that you can barely feel it when you roll the down between your fingers. For their size, these feathers are so light, they come close to defying gravity. Why then are they called “down” when perhaps a more fitting name would be “up”?