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> 初中英语 > 初中英语教材 > 英文科学读本(六册全) >  第85课

英文科学读本 第三册·Lesson 05 The Uses of Feathers

所属教程:英文科学读本(六册全)

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2022年01月14日

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Lesson 05 The Uses of Feathers

You have not forgotten our chat about feathers, Norah? said Fred a few evenings later.

Oh no, said his sister. "I know the three kinds of feathers which birds have—the quill feathers of the wings and tail, the body or clothing feathers, and the under-jacket of down."

Teacher has been showing us that all these are very useful to us in their own way. Shall I see what I can remember of our lesson?

Oh yes, do, Fred, please, said Norah.

Well then, let us begin with the quill feathers. These are mostly used for adorning ladies' hats and bonnets. The most beautiful and costly feathers are the wing feathers of the ostrich, a great bird ever so much bigger than a man.

In Africa there are large ostrich farms, where these birds are reared solely for their feathers, and I am sorry to have to say, Norah, that the cruel people of those farms pluck the feathers at regular seasons from the poor birds while they are alive.

I suppose very few of the ladies who wear the beautiful feathers have any idea of the torture the poor birds suffer to provide for their dress. It always makes me very angry when I think about it.

It's just as cruel to slaughter other birds, said Willie, "by thousands, as they do, for nothing else but their beautiful feathers. Of course it is always the most beautiful of the birds that they choose. If I were a lady I would never wear one of the dreadful feathers."

I'm sure I never will, said Norah, with a shudder. "How cruel it is!"

Teacher showed us some quill pens, said Fred. "They are made of the wing feathers of the goose and swan. We rarely see quill pens now. They are not so much used as they once were. Nearly every one writes now with a steel pen. But the quill pen is still used for certain purposes, and a small pen made of the crow quill is the best for some kinds of drawing."

The clothing or body feathers of birds are very largely used for stuffing beds, pillows, and cushions. The birds which supply most of the feathers for this purpose are the poultry birds and wild fowl. They are killed for food, and the feathers are plucked from their dead bodies.

I was thinking, said Norah, "of the great number of these birds we see in the shops about Christmas time. What an immense quantity of feathers there must be."

Yes, said Fred, "and teacher says that, besides these, we bring in year after year shiploads of feathers from other countries."

Very little trouble is wanted to prepare them for use. All that is needed is to dry and beat them to remove dust, and then to bake them in an oven to kill the vermin in them.

Do you remember what teacher said about the eider down, Fred? asked Will. "The down is got from the eider duck, Norah, a wild seabird that makes her nest on the rocks by the sea, and lines it with down from her own breast. In this nest she lays her eggs."

Each day men go round and take away some of the down and some of the eggs. Each day the bird plucks more down from her breast and lays another egg, only to have the nest robbed again and again, till she has no more down to spare.

This may seem cruel, but the bird is not fit for food, and as we want the down, it is better than slaughtering the birds to get it.

SUMMARY

The quill feathers of some birds are used for ladies' hats and bonnets, for ornaments, and for making pens; the clothing feathers and down for stuffing beds, pillows, cushions, etc.


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