[Thanan] Dromae Feathers
Dromae moult once a year. The primary feathers on the legs and arms follow a pattern, with the outermost feather being replaced first and each following after in succession. Generally each feather is fully regrown before the next falls out, but occasionally one will drop before the next is full length. The secondaries are less coordinated in their replacement order but still broadly follow the same out to in sweep, beginning once the primaries are complete.
The feathers of the crest are often shed two or three at a time and in a more random distribution, occasionally giving the raptor an unfortunate lopsided look. Tail feathers are shed starting at the tip and moving down the sides, in theory dropping in pairs. In practice one side will inevitably get ahead of the other and so fall out of step. The contour feathers of the body are moulted sporadically throughout the year.
Many dromae choose to trim the long feathers on their arms and legs since uncut feathers limit the clothes that can be worn and for most occupations only serve to get in the way. Some employers will even require feathers to be kept below a certain length as part of their dress code. While their balance and jumping distance is restricted a dromae can still hunt with their feathers clipped. Consequently some raptors in occupations taking them into dangerous parts of the wilderness will still choose to clip their feathers so that they are able to wear armour, trading attack prowess for survivability.
On the flip side, possessing particularly long, well groomed and decorated plumage is considered a sign of status. Considerable time must be dedicated to preening to achieve this as well as one’s job both allowing it and not being likely to cause quill damage.
For most dromae attention is mostly given to the feathers of the head and crest. These are an important part of a raptor’s body language and may be enhanced with lightweight jewelry or daubs of paint. More daring raptors may chose to dye their crest bright colours or even trim the tips and sides of feathers to create dramatic shapes.
Contour, trimmed or damaged feathers are disposed of once moulted, but some dromae choose to collect and recycle intact larger ones. In many past cultures tribal leaders would wear wraps, scarves or capes decorated with the tail, wing or crest feathers of their pack as a symbol of unity. For highly formal functions many empresses will wear a full cloak made from the donated feathers of their subjects. When a new empress is chosen the call will go out and thousands will be collected with the finest woven into the cloak she will wear at her coronation. The majority of empresses will be buried, cremated or entombed wrapped in this garment.