Feathers of birds are beautiful to look at but also have an incredible microstructure. Protein beta-keratin is the substance of all feathers and all have a branching structure, but the variety of shapes and colors are very diverse. Through the microscope you can see bundles of barbules and coloration unique to each segment. These barbules interlock to create the smooth and flexible surfaces that makes flight possible while protecting the bird from the elements.
Male peacock feathers are among the most colorful and beautiful. Courtship displays where the male peacock fans his large feathers, then vibrates and rattles them to attract potential mates have fascinated ornithologists and physicists alike. For many years it was thought that the colorful display or the rattling sound was the main attracting aspect, but physicists have found another possibility- that peahens might prefer higher frequency, more intense displays because they benefit from mating with more powerful males.
The Hindu consider the peacock feather to be very auspicious and will put them on display in different corners of the house to enhance harmonious living and prosperity.
*Note that this page is archived, and this Smart Microscope Slide has been retired.