The Atlas of Feathers for Western Palearctic Birds is a collective project of the Feather Research Group, founded in 1972 by Wilfried Hansen. This monumental work, depicting the feathers of nearly all bird species recorded in the Western Palearctic, has been in the making for over 20 years. More than 150,000 feathers have been scanned for this encyclopedia, both in private feather collections and in many natural history museums. These scans, digitally composed into beautiful pterylographies, reveal hidden details of all major plumages, including Slender-billed Curlew (Numenius tenuirostris) and Algerian Nuthatch (Sitta ledanti).
The Atlas of Feathers for Western Palearctic Birds will consist of a 2-volume concise edition and a 9-volume full edition. The concise edition of the Atlas of Feathers for Western Palearctic Birds is scheduled to come out in 2019, starting with the passerine volume. The concise edition will present the most important identifying features of each species’ feathers on a highly reduced overview page. In the full edition, this highly reduced overview page will be followed by one or several full-page pterylographies, which will depict each species’ plumage in much more detail and in larger size.
Feather identification is of great significance for the nature conservation authorities because it is possible to prove the existence of an endangered bird species in a given locality by a single moulted feather. Therefore, the work of the Feather Research Group is supported by the Jane Goodall Institute and by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The Atlas of Feathers for Western Palearctic Birds is a long awaited work that will benefit both the conservation community and individual birders.