How do they come to lose them in the first place, and do they grow back again?

Oddly enough I?ve never managed to shoot one so that I could take a closer look, so clearly the loss of so many feathers doesn?t affect their jinking abilities!

PIGEON SHOOTING

Peter Theobald

All birds continually re-grow their feathers, but once a year, at the end of the summer, they moult all their plumage.

Obviously, they do not all fall out at once, but over the course of 4-5 weeks, all the feathers will be replaced.

This is when you see the ?skinhead? birds with blood filled stubs all over their bodies, and occasionally with large gaps in the wings where two or three quills have fallen out.

With ducks, all their flight feathers fall out at the same time, leaving them unable to fly, but to stop the colourful drakes becoming an easy meal for predators, nature sees to it that they take on the drab colours of females, allowing them to be camouflaged.