Why are the wing-tip feathers different?

Feathers on a crane's wing tips are called primary feathers. They are black because they contain a dark color pigment called melanin.

The melanin makes primary feathers much stronger. That's important. The wing tips get the most wear and tear from flying. The melanin helps the primary feathers last longer.

— Laura Erickson, Ornithologist


Photo Cindy Loken

More in the Glossary

Journey North is pleased to feature this educational adventure made possible by the
Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership.