The key difference between feather and quill is that feather is a general term used to refer to any feather on any part of a bird, while quill is a writing tool made using a flight feather of a large bird.
Feathers can be cleaned and put on for display since they look nice due to the various colours on them, which are produced by pigments. Quills are used for writing, and they were popular during medieval times because of their parchment and vellum friendly nature.
What is a Feather?
Feathers are epidermal growths that create outer coverings on both birds and non-birds. They protect birds from cold temperatures and water. Birds also use their feathers to make nests and protect their eggs and the young. The individual feathers in the tail and wings control the bird’s flight. Some birds even have a crest of feathers on their heads. A feather is light in weight, but a bird’s plumage weighs more than that. It even weighs several times more than its skeleton, whose bones are often hollow and contain air sacs.
Feathers are one of the main characteristics that distinguish birds from other animals. A feather can be just plucked from birds, cleaned to get rid of any residue or germs and then sold or can be put on display.
There are two types of feathers named vaned feathers and down feathers. Vaned feathers cover the exterior of an animal’s body, and down feathers are under the vaned feathers. Vaned feathers have the main shaft, which is called the rachis. Merged to this rachis are branches, and they too have branches named barbules. The barbules have small hooks called barbicels. Down feathers lack barbicels, so they are fluffy. Some hatching birds have a special type of natal down feathers that are pushed out when the normal feathers appear.
The colours in the feathers act as camouflage for birds from predators in their natural habitat. These colours are formed by pigments that are usually recognized as melanin. These feathers of birds are replaced throughout the bird’s life through a process called molting.
What is a Quill?
A quill is a writing tool made from a flight feather. The best quills were made using goose, swan, and turkey feathers. Before the invention of dip pens, nibbed metal pens, fountain pens and then ballpoint pens, quills were used for writing. A quill is usually made by cutting the tip of a feather in a specific way. This cutting is based on whether the user is left or right-handed, the thickness needed for the letters and the style of calligraphy. Professional scribes and calligraphers used quills even today.
The majority of medieval manuscripts were written using quills, including some important documents such as the Magna Carta and the Declaration of Independence. This is mainly due to their good rapport with parchment and vellum. In addition, writing, quills were used to create decorations, figures and images on manuscripts. After the invention of the metal pens and their mass production in the 1822’s the demand for quills decreased.
What is the Difference Between Feather and Quill?
The key difference between feather and quill is that feather is a general term used to refer to any feather on any part of a bird, while quill is a pen made using a stiff feather.
The following table summarizes the difference between feather and quill.
Summary – Feather vs Quill
Feathers are for the protection of birds and animals during harsh weather conditions and from water. Birds use them in their nests for the protection of the eggs and the young. There are two types of feathers as vaned feathers and down feathers. Feathers have different colourations and birds. Quills are made using the flight feathers of a large bird. They are made by cutting the tip of the feather in a specific way. They can be customized according to the users’ wishes, like left or right-handedness and the thickness of the letters. Thus, this is the summary of the difference between feather and quill.
3. “Quill” By sure2talk (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr