There are many different types of Ostrich Feathers depending on the age of the bird, the sex of the bird and where they are positioned on the bird.
Figure 1 explains the following terms and illustrates various defects that may be present in an ostrich feather. A feather consists of a Plume (the larger part of the feather) and the Quill (the naked stalk at the bottom end of the feather). A Plume consists of a Shaft (rachis) with branched Barbs on which Barbules are found. Every Barbule has a Base and a Pennulum, on which minute spikelets (Barbicels) are found, which are called Fila, without the normal Hooklets (Pyecraft, 1898). These Hooklets would normally hook onto the Hooklets of adjacent barbs’ Barbules to form a network in perching birds. The bases of the barbules of all flightless birds are twisted. A single Barb with Barbules is called a Plumule, and all the Plumules together is the Flue. A single Plume has a Butt (at the point closest to the base) and a Tip (at the
point furthest from the base).
Figure 1: Ostrich Feather Drawing illustrating definitions, terminology and and some defects (compiled from Swart, 1979)