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The Bastard Wing

Question: What is a Bastard Wing (alula feathers)?

Comment(s):

C1: The bastard wing is also called “alula feathers”. In the wings of each bird are beside to the primaries and secondaries a small number of small and stiff quill feathers (the alula) present. The number differs from two quills in little birds, such as hummingbirds to as 5 or 6. Most of passerines have a number of 3 or 4 wide, short, solid, pointed and powerful quill feathers. The alula is attached to the thumb bone, or better explained attached to the first digit of a bird, distinct from the wing feathers attached to the other digits and the ulna. The alula helps the bird to stay aloft at slow speeds. Normally the alula is held flush along the surface of the wing and is very difficult to see. Only in a slow flight or landing the alula moves forward and it becomes more visible. When open the wing of a bird you can see the alula clearly. When the wing is closed the alula is normal covered by three to five small flight feathers and is very difficult to see. The alula is more pronounced in the case of those species of birds, which frequently fly with a braking effect. Slats at airplanes have the same effect as the alula in birds.
Normaly the alula feathers are not visible. Only when the plumage is not proper closed up, the alula feathers are seen.
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