Feathers are produced by avian-species for a variety of purposes, including, protection, display, and for flight. In return, many humanoid species have also found various ways to use their feathers.

The mysterious Phoenix eagles would grant one of their primary feathers to an individual they recognized as being a mature person. In the 23rd century, Starfleet Captain Hunter and her aunt were both awarded with feathers. (TOS novel: The Entropy Effect)