Two days ago at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge I found a couple of Western Grebes preening in an area where the reflections on the water are always wonderful so I took a series of images. I love it when the blue sky is also reflected on the surface along with the other colors and this frame has that and it also shows a feather stuck to the bill of the grebe that is in sharp focus. Grebes are known for eating their own feathers. From Birds of North American (BNA) online:
Stomachs also contain many feathers, mostly from the bird’s flanks and scapulars, tracts, which are in almost constant molt. Feathers swallowed as they come out in the course of preening. Most feathers form ball in lumen of stomach, but some form plug at pyloric exit. Function not proven but thought to keep fish bones from injuring lining of stomach and reaching intestine or, as suggested by Piersma and Van Eerden (1989), to assist in the formation of pellets which can be ejected, eliminating indigestible material and a possible build-up of gastric parasites. Pyloric plug may reduce number of intestinal parasites, which are numerous (see Demography: mortality and disease), although effectiveness is unknown (Storer 2000).
I did not observe either of these grebes eating the feathers they plucked out while preening that morning instead the feathers simply floated down the Bear River.
I like the bit of interest the single feathers provides.
Life is good.