Feathers that have evolved into musical instruments? This may sound like an outrageous idea, but the male Club-winged Manakins of Central and South America use a highly-modified feather structure to sing a powerful one-note tune. Strong selection on these males to attract females has made them unique in the bird world, but it took many years of scientific investigation to figure out how their singing wings work.

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Meet a Feather Scientist is part of a larger Interactive Feature where you'll find:
  1. What is Unique to Birds? thumbnail
    What is Unique to Birds? Discover which anatomical features are unique to birds What is Unique to Birds?
  2. How Feathers Are Built thumbnail
    How Feathers Are Built Explore feather anatomy—from the fluffy downs to the aerodynamic flight feathers How Feathers Are Built
  3. What Feathers Do thumbnail
    What Feathers Do Learn how feathers function to help birds fly, show off, blend in, stay warm, and keep dry What Feathers Do
  4. Feathers Through Time thumbnail
    Feathers Through Time Get the scoop on how and why feathers evolved on the dinosaur ancestors of birds Feathers Through Time
  5. Meet a Feather Scientist thumbnail
    Meet a Feather Scientist Follow the scientific journey that uncovered how some feathers act as musical instruments Meet a Feather Scientist
  6. Think About Feathers thumbnail
    Think About Feathers Take a minute to reflect on what you've learned about feathers Think About Feathers