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9 Survival Uses For Feathers

9 Survival Uses For Feathers

When the SHTF, your survival depends on your ability to use what’s around you. Factories aren’t manufacturing goods anymore, shops have limited stock if any at all, so you’re truly on your own and scavenging items to use will become a part of daily life.

When the SHTF, your survival depends on your ability to use what’s around you. Factories aren’t manufacturing goods anymore, shops have limited stock if any at all, so you’re truly on your own and scavenging items to use will become a part of daily life.

Your day-to-day life is highly likely going to depend on the environment, so the knowledge of using natural objects like leaves, branches, moss and the many uses for feathers will be to your advantage.

The British Trust for Ornithology estimates there’s 90 million birds in the UK, from eagles, kestrels and hawks to herons, kingfishers, woodpeckers, seagulls, sparrows, ducks, swans and chickens.

If you know where to look, and what to do with their feathers, then you have a huge advantage over your competitors. From repairing your current items to creating new ones, feathers are versatile and often found in high numbers.

Where To Find Them

Naturally, feathers will only be found where birds are present, either flying through or nesting, and you should explore places like woods, forests and by the seaside to find feathers in abundance. You can also search more specifically for nests, where you’re guaranteed to find some feathers to use.

Don’t hesitate to make traps for the birds either, as preppers should be ready to do whatever’s necessary when SHTF. You can harvest the meat to and then save all of the feathers for future use, killing two birds with one stone.

You can also find feathers in places they’ve been incorporated into man made creations like pillows, duvets and some styles of jacket. Simply search for places you’d find them, like residential properties or homeware stores, and you can use them to your advantage.

Granted, more upmarket homes are likely to have feather pillows and duvets as goose-down can be quite expensive if used in large quantities.

It’s likely that you’ll also see feathers out and about, trapped in bushes by the wind or just blowing by and these are good for updating your collection, one at a time.

You can also use what you know about birds to find feathers, like if you notice lots of droppings in a particular area or hear squawking from a certain location day after day, there’s likely to be a nest nearby.

Many times when you are walking in the countryside foraging for food you’ll also come across a large pile of feathers on the ground where a bitd has been attacked by another bird of prey or a fox. Sometimes birds of prey often take a kill to a ‘plucking post’ where they perch and strip all of the feathers off before eating it. 

picking up finding feathers on ground

Here’s a list of 9 things you can do with them:

1. Fishing Lures

You need to find sustenance wherever you can, and fishing is one of the best ways you can source your next meal as it requires very little effort. Lures are an essential aspect of the fishing process and have been for centuries.

The brighter lure you use the better – so try and find bird feathers like peacocks, woodpigeons and magpie which have an iridescent quality.

In a post-disaster world, you’ll have access to places like manor houses where you wouldn’t usually be able to go, and these frequently have peacocks.

As a prepper, just now you’re looking at a world pre-SHTF, so buy some fishing hooks online in advance so you have something decent to attach the feathers to.

2. Hunting

If you are a keen archer hunter using a bow and arrow to stalk your prey, then you’ll know that the flight of an arrow is highly important to keep it straight and inline to hit your target.

Feathers were traditionally used for flights for this reason, so if you need to remake your arrows then feathers are the best way. Simply glue or wrap the feathers to the arrow for improved stability.

You can also use feathers to make your own duck decoy. Take feathers from your previous kills and make your own duck lookalike with wood or a plastic bottle to float on the water.

Make a few of them to create the perfect duck decoy set and start luring them in. You can also make a small bird decoy on a string and pull it along the ground to entice predatory raptor birds from above.

3. Tinder

Knowing how to make a fire is one of the most essential skills a prepper can get to grips with when practicing for a disaster situation. It’s entry-level knowledge to use regular tinder material like paper, wood and string to begin your fire, but many wouldn’t consider using feathers.

They dry incredibly easily as they’re usually very thin, and are extremely combustible.

The hardest part of using feathers for tinder is that as they burn so easily, there’s little room for mistakes – once they’re gone they’re gone, but enough practice should have you covered.

Unfortunately, they can also be quite hard to source – but due to the nature of bird’s shedding, once you find one feather, you’re likely to find others around it, or even a hawk kill. 

4. Quills

Long before the invention of pens, people used feathers to make quills and communicate. Following the breakdown of electrical pylons, transmission lines, radio stations and other essential aspects of infrastructure, it’s back to the old ways.

You can sharpen the end of a feather to create a point and spread messages, which will be a crucial part of your life in a post-disaster United Kingdom.

From writing signs to sending messages, keeping journals or logs, and even something far-fetched like a message in a bottle, the death of communication is something you simply cannot afford to happen.

Check out this article to find out how to make your own quill. Ink can be created from a number of substances too.

5. Pillows

In a SHTF situation, it’s more important than ever that you get a good night’s sleep to stay energised and alert, and a pillow is a great way to ensure this – especially if you don’t have the luxury of a mattress.

There are two different approaches – to repair one you already have, or make your own. This can be achieved by getting any soft vessel, like an old pair of trousers, a pillowcase or sack, and filling it with feathers.

This approach can also be applied to cushions so you can sit comfortably instead of directly on the cold ground which may have broken twigs and dirt.

The best filling feathers are the small ones closest to the skin of the animals, as the larger feathers tend to have long pointy quills.

If you have collected a lot of feathers and are sleeping in a cold place, why not stuff your jacket with them. They are highly insulating and will keep heat from escaping. We don’t advise putting them directly onto your skin as they may be itchy, but between your t-shirt and jumper will be fine.

6. Compost

Very few people think to add feathers onto a compost heap, but they’re actually one of the best materials you can use. As they’re incredibly rich in nitrogen, they decompose quickly, and are a welcome addition to add to a pile you already have.

As it’s more likely you’ll have a compost heap in a disaster situation to fertilise your homegrown vegetables and fruit plants than the real world, we definitely think they’re a worthy addition to your survival cache, as they’ll help decompose any food waste, or even human waste, that you’re producing.

Simply add them on top of your current compost heap and let them work their magic.

7. Decoration

Easily the most trivial suggestion on the list of uses for feathers, but this can be a welcome, homely addition to your space, especially when you’re coming to the end of a disaster, and a better world is in sight.

These can also be suitable for younger children in your group, if you’re bugging in or have found others to join, who need to be distracted.

You can use glue to stick feathers around the edge of a mirror or to stick onto pieces of paper for fun. Why not complete your survival look with a few feathers glued to a headband or hairclip.

If you’ve gone full native after so long without civilisation, why not make headdresses made from the longest feathers of a bird.

8. To Stoke Fires

This is probably the most low-effort, high-reward way you can use feathers to your advantage. Simply grab five or six long ones that you’ve collected, and attach them to the end of a stick or a pole.

You can simply split a notch at the end of the wood and stuff them in. This is a great way to push hot air around your fire, and let it grow – allowing the perfect place to cook food, or simply keep warm throughout the cold nights.

If you gather lots of large primary feathers, the feathers on the outermost edge of the wing, and spread them out at the end of a tied stick, you have a basic fan which can be used to revive glowing embers of a fire to start it burning again.

Don’t let them get too close though or they’ll catch fire.

9. Games

With so much time on your hands without the distraction of TV and your daily commute, why not play some games with the feathers you’ve collected. You can dip them in paint and make prints on paper or the dwelling you are staying at.

You can create your own dreamcatchers and dangle feathers from the bottom for authenticity. Feathers can be pushed inside a pinecone to make your own creation, and then they can be blown along a flat surface with a straw to see who crosses the finish line first.

A favourite game of children in many countries is to take a downy feather from a bird and throw it up in the air. Then the players have to take turns blowing underneath it to make it float back up in the air, then it’s the next persons turn and whoever it falls to the ground on is out of the game.

You can even send the children into the local area where it’s safe and see who comes back with the most interesting patterned feather.



Clearly, there’s a huge number uses for feathers to your advantage – from the essential to the trivial, they can be applied to almost every aspect of your bugging in or bugging out experience.

The only issue you’ll face is where to find them, as retail places are your best bet, but these are also some of the most populous places for others also looking for essentials.

You can use your tracking skills to find them in nature, which we highly recommend – and if you do some simple research, you can find them in huge numbers.


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