Difference Between Wings and Feathers

Wings vs Feathers

Wings and feathers are simply two different biological features, possessed by animals with flight. However, average people still manage to confuse these two. Therefore, the real meanings of wings and feathers should be understood with the differences between those, as well. Only the birds have feathers but wings are present in many animals including bats and flying insects. However, this article discusses the bird wings and feathers. That is because, feathers are exclusively bird features and any misconduct usually takes place with birds more often than not.


All avians have wings including birds, insects, bats, and the manmade aeroplanes, as well. In definition, wing means that any appendage that provides flying surface through the atmosphere. In birds and bats, the forelimb is adapted as a wing to produce flight while, in insects, the wings are separate features, in addition to their walking legs. In birds, the structure of a wing consists of three main bones known as humerus, radius, and ulna. There is a Central vane to hit each wing. Usually, there are three digits, which make the hand or the manus of the wing of birds. In addition, the manus provides the anchoring of a bird’s wing. According to the shapes, there are four basic types of bird wings, which correspond with different enhanced functions in addition to flight. In other words, a certain shape of a wing would correspond with speed, efficient energy usage, or manoeuvrability. Short and round Elliptical wings are related with manoeuvrability or skilful movement in a confined space. The short and pointed High-speed wings provide fast flights as in Arctic terns. High aspect ratio wings (longer than wide) are useful for slow flights, and the Soaring wings are related with instant takeoffs. In addition to all these information, the fact that wings of the birds are covered with feathers should be noticeable.


Feathers, in the definition, are one of the exclusive features of birds. It is, in fact, an epidermal growth, which covers the body of a bird. Feathers have few main functions including flight, thermal insulation, waterproofing, and colouration for attraction and protection. However, feathers are the most complex structures related to the vertebrate skin or the integumentary system. Feathers are formed in the small follicles in the epidermis of the birds. The main parts of a feather are Vane, Rachis, Barb and barbules, Afterfeather, and Hollow shaft or Calamus. Hollow shaft emerges from the follicle and extends as the rachis. Barbs attach on either side of rachis, and the barbules lock the barbs, so that it forms two surfaces (called vane) on either side of the rachis. Afterfeathers are found at the base of the vane around calamus. There are two main types of feathers known as down feathers and vaned feathers. Barbules have barbicles; those enable to trap more air, which is helpful in thermal regulation. However, the bird feathers are formed with keratins, which are lightweight but strong. Pigmented feathers provide colourations in birds, which paves the way for one of the most interesting fields in biology known as sexual attraction strategies. In addition, there are so many noteworthy things to discuss about bird feathers.

What is the difference between Wings and Feathers?

• Wings are the forelimbs that are adapted for flight in birds, whereas feathers are epidermal growths that cover the body of a bird.

• Wings are made up of bones, muscles, and feathers, whereas feathers are made up of keratin complexes.

• Wings differ in shape for different flying mechanisms, whereas the whole structures of feathers vary according to the functions.

• Wings always function in flying while feathers have different functions including thermal regulation, sexual attraction, communication, and flying.

• Wings could be found in many animals in addition to birds, but feathers are exclusive bird features.