Because we see a lot of moulted feathers from Black Cockatoos and other rare birds, we know what is possible and what isn't possible in the qualities of the feathers. We have the luxury of being very strict on grading and therefore our middle grade feathers (Grades 2 & 2+) are much lower priced than our high grade feathers - but are still a nice quality to most people. Our middle grade feathers can be comparable to 'top', 'A' or 'AAA' grade feathers, when based on a grading system which isn't as strict. The terms 'Good', 'Very Good' or 'Excellent' can also be broad, but our numbered grading system keeps the grades more specific. This system is exclusive to FeatherExchange.com and is best suited for the types of feathers we source and supply. There is a large difference in value between the grades and remember that our high grade feathers (grades 3 and 4) are above the criteria for 'top', 'A' and 'AAA' grade feathers used by other feather sellers. Enhancement Potential: Some of the grade 1+ feathers can be trimmed (or shaft repaired) to become a higher grade and some grade 2 and 2+ feathers can also be very gently ironed and/or trimmed by customers to enhance their grade. We do not enhance feathers this way, since we only grade and supply feathers in exactly the same condition they fell from the bird. Our grading system is solely based on grading the feather in it's natural condition and without any human enhancement. The only thing we do is clean the feathers and our method keeps the feathers true to their natural form.
Please note: Some grade 1+ specimens are so close to being a grade 2 that they are listed as a middle grade. They are regarded as a low-end middle grade and are usually listed in the 'Middle Grade' categories. Some grade 2+ specimens are so close to being a grade 3 that they are listed as a high grade. They are regarded as a low-end high grade and are usually listed in the 'High Grade' categories.
Grade Examples, Below:
Grade 0. The lowest grade.
Grade 1. The second lowest grade.
Moderate flaws will distinguish a grade 0 from a grade 1 and a grade 1 from a grade 1+, but major flaw/s will distinguish a grade 1 from a grade 2. These low grade feathers are inexpensive and ideal for fly-tying and other uses.
Grade 1+, but some in grade 2 can also look like this.
Grade 2. Middle (fair) grade.
Even the best tail sets we make up are a combination of middle (2 & 2+) and high (3 & 4) grade feathers, with the majority being middle grades (i.e. grades 2 and 2+). A tail set consisting of all grade 2 and 2+ feathers will look the same to most people. The imperfections we downgrade the middle grade feathers for are insignificant to most people and are only relevant to discerning collectors. For many customers, the middle grade feathers (grades 2 & 2+) are excellent value for money and suit the broadest range of uses, from manufacturing nice fans and other products to collection and display purposes.
Grade 2+ is halfway between grades 2 & 3, or borderline.
Grade 3. The second highest grade.
The grading does get stricter as it increases, so only a minor flaw will distinguish a grade 3 from a grade 4. Note: The grade 2+ feather above may be a brighter and larger feather than the grade 3, but that fold in the centre downgraded it to a 2+. Folds like this can usually straighten over time from storage or can be gently ironed to improve the grade. This is beneficial for customers that have the knowledge to enhance the feathers.
Grade 4. The highest grade.
A male tail and primary wing feather of the same species, in a grade 4.
Note: Grade 4M (not illustrated) is a sub-grade of Grade 4 and reserved for the very best of the grade 4 feathers. Feathers in the 4M grade are scarce. As you can see above, Grade 4 feathers are exceptional and grade 3 isn't far behind. Feathers in these high grades are suitable mostly for discerning collectors. Although their prices can seem expensive to some people, they are good value considering how rare and beautiful they are.
Mark's Products & Services (AKA: MP&S) T/AS: FeatherExchange.com is the world's No.1 Merchant of feathers from CITES listed Parrot, Cockatoo and Raptor species. All our feathers are naturally moulted from well looked-after birds in captivity. Being a specialist in feathers from CITES listed (and highly protected) bird species, such as Black Cockatoos for example - MP&S holds several Australian Government issued licenses to source and trade legally within Australia and internationally. It is illegal to commercially trade with these feathers within Australia or export them overseas without holding the appropriate Australian Government licensing. The laws are in place to protect these birds.MP&S offers a free support program for unlicensed customers that wish to resell their creations (including artwork) made from feathers that we supply. Please contact us for more information.