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Feb 16, 2012

A winter for feathers and down

Photo by Stefan Sauer/EPA
A seagull walks on the backs of swans as both species of birds search for food along the icy Sund promenade in Stralsund, northern Germany, at the southern end of the Baltic Sea.   Waterfowl enjoy not just the insulating properties of their feathers but their feathers also provide a water-tight benefit.   Both qualities are being tested, in the extreme, in Europe this winter.
Photo by Ognen Teofilovski / Reuters
A goose preens in the abundant snow at Skopje, Macedonia, as Europe's 'big freeze' continues.   Down are the light and fluffy, feathery filaments that make up the undercoating against the skin of ducks, geese, swans and other waterfowl.   Other birds to not produce down.
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