The other day I e-mailed this question to a friend who has a Ph.D. in Wildlife Biology. I am reprinting his response as a public service.
The other day I heard a dad admonish his child not to pick up a feather because "if a bird loses a feather it's because the bird is sick."
Is this true or just something we parents say in order to stop our kids from picking up items we deem undesirable?
Should I let me kids pick up feathers?
Birds go through at least one molt and sometimes several in a year so losing a feather is perfectly natural and not indicative of an illness. Even if a bird was ill it is quite unlikely the feather would be contaminated with anything that could be transmitted to humans.
Even feather lice do not live on humans as our body temperature is too low when compared to birds. Whenever I see a nice feather I always pick it up. In fact, Connie and I have a feather collection in a mug at home.
So encourage the boys to collect feathers!
So the moral of the story is you should let your kids collect feathers, who knows, they could become a big brain like my friend Laird.