I was reminded recently of a raptor tidbit and wanted to get your thoughts… I had heard long ago (yikes, 30 years ago) that most birds with whitish or pale primaries and secondaries have black tips to these feathers (not all do, of course) because the melanin in the dark part of the feather helps to keep the feather structurally sound so it doesn’t break or wear quickly. It makes sense and seems to serve that function, so I never thought anything different, and it is a neat adaptation. But is it really true? If anyone has read otherwise, please write in and let us know. Here are some examples of hawks with black wing tips to see what I am talking about.
This post was written by Jerry Liguori. You can read more about Jerry and his legacy at HawkWatch International here.