Identification of a unique barb from the dorsal body contour feathers of the Indian Pitta Pitta brachyura (Aves: Passeriformes: Pittidae)

Main Article Content

Prateek Dey
https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6486-958X
Swapna Devi Ray
https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8593-689X
Sanjeev Kumaar Sharma
Padmanabhan Pramod
Ram Pratap Singh

Abstract

Earlier research on feather morphology emphasized comprehensively on the body contour feather than various other types of feathers. Therefore, we conducted a systematic study on all feather types of the Indian Pitta Pitta brachyura, a passerine bird native to the Indian subcontinent. Feather barbs from wing contour, tail contour, body contour, semiplume, down, powder down, and bristle feathers were retrieved from the bird and observed under a light microscope. Primary flight feathers from the right and left wing were longest (85.17 mm and 87.32 mm, respectively), whereas bristle feathers were the shortest (5.31 mm). The mean barb length was observed to be the highest (11.37±0.47 mm) in the wing feather followed by body contour (8.31±0.39 mm), semiplume (8.27±0.22 mm), tail feather (7.85±0.50 mm), down (6.45±0.21 mm), powder down (6.04±0.23 mm), and bristle (2.70±0.07 mm).  Pearson correlation was found positive for barb length and feather length of down feathers (r= 0.996, p ≤0.05). We observed a novel type of barb the first time from dorsal body contour feather having plumulaceous barbules at the base followed by pennaceous barbules. This unique barbule arrangement is termed ‘sub-plumulaceous’ as it is distinct and analogous to known ‘sub-pennaceous’ type arrangement found absent in passerines.

Article Details

How to Cite
[1]
Dey, P., Ray, S.D., Sharma, S.K., Pramod, P. and Singh, R.P. 2021. Identification of a unique barb from the dorsal body contour feathers of the Indian Pitta Pitta brachyura (Aves: Passeriformes: Pittidae). Journal of Threatened Taxa. 13, 8 (Jul. 2021), 19029–19039. DOI:https://doi.org/10.11609/jott.6362.13.8.19029-19039.
Section
Communications

References

Chandler, A.C. (1916). A study of feathers, with reference to their taxonomic significance. University of California Press, Berkeley, 274pp.

BirdLife International and Handbook of the Birds of the World (2017). Bird species distribution maps of the world, version 7.0. http://datazone.birdlife.org/species/

Bensch, S., M. Grahn, N. Müller, L. Gay & S. Akesson (2009). Genetic, morphological, and feather isotope variation of migratory willow warblers show gradual divergence in a ring. Molecular Ecology 18(14): 3087–3096. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-294X.2009.04210.x

Day, M.G. (1966). Identification of hair and feather remains in the gut and faeces of stoats and weasels. Journal of Zoology 148(2): 201–217. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-7998.1966.tb02948.x

Dove, C.J. (1997a). Quantification of Microscopic Feather Characters Used in the Identification of North American Plovers. The Condor 99(1): 47–57.

Dove, C.J. (1997b). Quantification of Microscopic Feather Characters Used in the Identification of North American Plovers. The Condor 99(1): 47–57.

Dove, C.J. (2000). A Descriptive and Phylogenetic Analysis of Plumulaceous Feather Characters in Charadriiformes. Ornithological Monographs 51: 1–163.

Dove, C.J., & C.P.J. Coddington (2015). Forensic Techniques Identify the First Record of Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus) Feeding on a Razorbill (Alca torda). The Wilson Journal of Ornithology 127(3): 503–506. https://doi.org/10.1676/14-176.1

Dove, C.J., P.G. Hare & M. Heacker (2005). Identification of ancient feather fragments found in melting alpine ice patches in southern Yukon. Arctic 1: 38–43.

Fairhurst, G.D., T.A. Marchant, C. Soos, K.L. Machin & R.G. Clark (2013). Experimental relationships between levels of corticosterone in plasma and feathers in a free-living bird. Journal of Experimental Biology 216(21): 4071–4081. https://doi.org/10.1242/jeb.091280

Dove, C.J., N.F. Dahlan & M. Heacker (2009). Forensic bird-strike identification techniques used in an accident investigation at Wiley Post Airport, Oklahoma, 2008. Human-Wildlife Conflicts 3(2): 179–185. https://doi.org/10.26077/ace5-s883

Galván, I. (2011). Feather microstructure predicts size and colour intensity of a melanin-based plumage signal. Journal of Avian Biology 42(6): 473–479. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-048X.2011.05533.x

Gill, F.B. (1995). Ornithology. Macmillan, New York City.

Hargrave, L.L. (1965). Identification of Feather Fragments by Microstudies. Memoirs of the Society for American Archaeology (19): 202–205.

Harwood, H.P. (2011). Identification and description of feathers in Te Papa’s Maori cloaks. Tuhinga 22: 125–147.

Kulp, F.B., L. D’Alba, M.D. Shawkey & J.A. Clarke (2018). Keratin nanofiber distribution and feather microstructure in penguins. The Auk 135(3): 777–787. https://doi.org/10.1642/AUK-18-2.1

Lambert, F.R. & M. Woodcock (1996). Pittas, broadbills and asities. Pica.

Lee, E., H. Lee, J. Kimura & S. Sugita (2010). Feather Microstructure of the Black-Billed Magpie (Pica pica sericea) and Jungle Crow (Corvus macrorhynchos). Journal of Veterinary Medical Science 72(8): 1047–1050. https://doi.org/10.1292/jvms.09-0482

Lee, J., S.D. Sarre, L. Joseph & J. Robertson (2016). Microscopic characteristics of the plumulaceous feathers of Australian birds: a preliminary analysis of taxonomic discrimination for forensic purposes. Australian Journal of Forensic Sciences 48(4): 421–444. https://doi.org/10.1080/00450618.2015.1076034

Lingham-Soliar, T. (2017). Microstructural tissue-engineering in the rachis and barbs of bird feathers. Scientific Reports 7: 45162. https://doi.org/10.1038/srep45162

Lovette, I.J., & J.W. Fitzpatrick (Eds.) (2016). Handbook of Bird Biology. John Wiley & Sons.

Messinger, N.G. (1965). Methods Used for Identification of Feather Remains from Wetherill Mesa. Memoirs of the Society for American Archaeology 19: 206–215.

Robertson, J., C. Harkin & J. Govan (1984). The Identification of Bird Feathers. Scheme for Feather Examination. Journal of the Forensic Science Society 24(2): 85–98.

Ray, S.D., P. Dey, N. Islam, S.K. Sharma, P. Pramod & R.P. Singh (2021). Comparative study of Yellow-billed Babbler (Turdoides affinis) feathers reveals uniformity in their microstructures among individuals. Journal of Experimental Biology and Agricultural Sciences 9(1): 51–64. https://doi.org/10.18006/2021.9(1).51.64

Schneider, C.A., W.S. Rasband & K.W. Eliceiri (2012). NIH Image to ImageJ: 25 years of image analysis. Nature methods 9(7): 671–675. https://doi.org/10.1038/nmeth.2089

Songyan, J., H. Fulan, L. Yue, L. Jiaqi & W. Xuejun (1995). Microstructure of feather of Red crowned crane (Grus japonensis). Journal of Northeast Forestry University 6(2): 71–74.

Most read articles by the same author(s)