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Disorders of the plumage influence aerodynamic properties of the body during flight. Feathers are equipped with a variety of sensors which are able to detect both position and movements. There are hair-like feathers (filoplumes) associated with most feathers which play a special role as sensory "hairs". Interestingly the information of these sensors is transmitted directly to the cerebellum, a part of the brain which is very important for the control of locomotion.

 

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Flight-relevant sensory information from eyes, vestibular organ and sensory receptors of feathers is transmitted directly to the posterior cerebellum
 

Literature:

 

Necker, R.: Receptors in the skin of the wing of pigeons and their possible role in bird flight. In: W. Nachtigall (ed.) Biona-Report. Fischer, Stuttgart New York, pp. 433-444 (1985)
 

Necker, R.: Observations on the function of a slowly adapting mechanoreceptor associated with filoplumes in the feathered skin of pigeons. J. Comp. Physiol. A 156, 391-394 (1985)
 

Necker, R.: The somatosensory system. In: Sturkies Avian Physiology (ed. CG Whittow). Academic Press, New York, 2000, pp 57-69
 

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cerebellum
eye
labyrinth
feather receptors
spinal cord
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Avian flight control

Sensory „hairs“ in the plumage control  aerodynamic properties of flight

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Filoplumes act as air flow sensors