Feather Fact #8 – Flight Feathers part 2


The flight feathers of the tail are referred to as the rectrices. The term seems rather aptly derived from the Latin for “helmsman,” given its important role in directional control. The tail feathers act like a rudder on an aircraft or boat to aid with steering left and right. They also augment the wings’ lift function; raising or lowering its tail lets a bird rise or descend. In flight, a bird can twist its tail to shift direction, when perched the tail helps it balance. Most bird species have 10-12 retrices which occur in pairs.