our fine feathered friends

 On any given day, up to four hundred billion individual birds may be found flying, soaring, swimming, hopping, or otherwise flitting about the earth. That’s more than fifty birds for every human being, one thousand birds per dog, and at least a half-million birds for every living elephant. … Each of those birds maintains an intricate coat of feathers-from roughly one thousand on a Ruby-throated Hum­mingbird to more than twenty-five thousand for a Tundra Swan.  …

Feathers: The Evolution of a Natural Miracle

by Thor Hanson
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