Do you often see turkeys crossing the road or geese flying overhead? For centuries, the feathers from these large birds were used as writing instruments, called quill pens (or quills). In order to properly use this tool, quills require ink and an inkwell. The hollow tip of the feather (the calamus) collects the ink then the ink flows to the tip via capillary action.
Similar to the pencil used today, the tip of a quill pen occasionally had to be resharpened. Do you want to try scribing like our ancestors? Get Outside!, hunt for a large feather and try out our Make Your Own Quill & Ink Activity!
Fun Fact: Since the majority of writers were right-handed, the feather of a bird’s left wing was considered most desirable. The feather would curve away from the writer’s face rather than tickling their nose!