An Ostrich Feather

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After about months, the chick feathers begin to lose these characteristics, and are plucked because they are not of high quality. After 2 years, the sex of the ostrich is clear, because the male has black body feathers, while those of the hen are a dull grey. The female feathers are a dull grey colour, ideal for breeding during the day because she is well-camouflaged.


With the grey feathers, she has creamy-white wing, tail and ventral plumes. The white on the feathers forms a unique pattern along the shaft, like a human fingerprint. The male feathers are black in colour, with the exception of the white wing-tips and tail-plumes and this is perfect camouflage for breeding at night. This is the reason why the males will guard and breed the eggs at night, and the females, with their dull grey feathers, breed during the day.

The Epic Boom and Bust of the Ostrich Feather Market - Foundation for Economic Education

Tail plumes are normally a brownish-orange colour because of the red Oudtshoorn dust, which can be easily washed off to return to its original white colour. The lower 30cm of the neck is covered with feathers, and the remainder with short downy feathers and hairs, as well as the head that is covered with short, straight hairs. A prize male ostrich yields around plumes. Between and wing plumes would make 1kg, whereas female wing plumes are even lighter. The quills are pulled out to prevent irritation to the bird and damage to the new feathers starting to grow behind the quills.

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They had a hot tip that the birds had come from Nigeria. They send the expedition off to Nigeria and they hire about a hundred local guys to carry all of their stuff. They set up next to a major feather trading route.

How to Create an Ostrich Feather-Top Wedding Reception or Party Table Decoration Centrepiece

There was a local tradition of plucking the ostriches bald, so that was weird. They come from over the border in French military territory. Can we liberate some ostriches?


They manage to acquire live ostriches. Then they realize that they now have to get these very large, angry birds back across the Sahara Desert.

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  • Then they only have to get the birds onto the ship. In rough seas, they can flip upside down in their pens with their legs waving in the air. If they stay like that, they can die. Like a year or two after they get back, the entire feather industry collapses, like completely.

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    Fashions started to change. Then the second nail in the coffin of the feather industry was World War I. Not only is everyone suddenly in mourning and not inclined to wear silly hats, but women are taking jobs as nurses and ambulance drivers and postal workers, and they need practical, no nonsense clothing that lets them get their jobs done. As the feather boom collapsed, all it left behind it was a legacy of ridiculous photos and one very nearly forgotten story.

    World Ostrich Association

    Thank you very much. Reprinted from NewCo Shift. Kelly Jensen is a Digital Collections Specialist, currently on leave from the library of the California Academy of Sciences to digitize photos of the making of Star Wars: A New Hope in the image archives of Lucasfilm Ltd. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.