Pigeon Wing Topography


Number of feathers will vary between species; this image depicts the dorsal wing topography of the pigeon. A domestic red bar king pigeon hen was the model for this image.

Primaries (primary remiges): Ten primary remiges in the pigeon and in most other birds. The major flight feathers of the wing are attached to the hand and finger bones of the manus. They provide forward thrust during flight and are the main propulsive area of the outer wing.

Secondaries (secondary remiges): Fifteen secondary remiges in the pigeon; variable in other species based upon wing length. Secondaries attach to the ulna.

Greater Primary and Secondary Coverts: Shield the bases of the remiges. Each covert is matched to one remex (species variable).

Median coverts: Single row of feathers found proximal to the greater coverts.

Lesser coverts: Last 2-3 rows of covert feathers found between the larger coverts and the marginal coverts.

Marginal coverts (wing coverts): Cover a significant portion of the anterior dorsal surface of the wing (larger birds). Feather vanes have greater flexibility than the other coverts.

Alular quills (alula): Three small, stiff quills attached to the first digit phalanges (pollex). Aid and disrupt air flow over the wing in flight.


Proctor, N., and P. Lynch. “Topography.” Manual of Ornithology: Avian Structure and Function. S.l.: Yale U.P., 1993. 56-61. Print.


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