Are badminton shuttlecocks made using feathers from only the left wing of a goose or a duck? Source: Shuttlecock aerodynamics
- Badminton World Federation (BWF) the world governing body of the sport of badminton mentions in its shuttlecock manufacturing certification standards that the shuttlecock should have 16 feathers fixed in the base but nowhere it mentions that it should be from the right or left wing of the goose or duck.
2.2 The shuttle shall have 16 feathers fixed in the base.
2.3 The feathers shall be measured from the tip to the top of the base and each
shuttle shall be of the same length. This length can be between 62 mm and 70
2.4 The tips of the feathers shall lie on a circle with a diameter from 58 mm to 68 mm. Source: BWF EQUIPMENT CERTIFICATION PROGRAMME SHUTTLECOCK
- The Indian Bureau of Standards process of manufacture of Shuttlecocks document also mentions that it should be 16 feathers glued into the cork but not about the origin of the feathers based on its anatomical right or left position.
The shuttlecocks shall have 16 feathers glued into the holes of the cork with synthetic adhesive. Individual feathers in a given shuttlecock shall be of
the same exposed length Source: Indian Standard Shuttlecocks — Specification
- Brett Zarda of Popular science visited a Yonex factory manufacturing shuttlecocks and noted that feathers are chosen from the goose's wing or a duck wing.
Feathers are chosen from the wing starting at the tip. The first three feathers are skipped based on length while the next seven are potentially used for high end shuttlecocks. Feathers beyond this range might find a spot on a practice or American shuttle but would be an insult to good Asian players. The feathers are bleached to create the pure white color but the specifics of that, and any other post-treatment, were apparently lost in translation (we're guessing intentionally). Feathers are then categorized by the curvature, weight and length of the feather to determine their capability for spin and speed. Source: ALL ABOUT BADMINTON.
- Paisan Rangsikitpho, a 12-year former deputy president of the Badminton World Federation notes that the geese wings differ in their curvature and this might be utilized in manufacturing shuttlecocks with proper spin during play to reduce wobbling. However no source is mentioned to back up this view.
Why feathers from the left wing? "The goose's left wing and right wing are curved differently," says Rangsikitpho. "If you look with your eye, you may not see it, but it's the way the feathers shape and flow. When you hit it, it has to spin only one way." A shuttlecock made from the feathers of the left wing will spin clockwise. One made from the feathers of the right wing will spin differently—an inconsistency that screws up the game. "Mix them up, right wing and left wing," Rangsikitpho says, "and it will not spin but wobble. Mother Nature made the goose and the duck that way." Source: The Rise of the Shuttlecock
Feathers are either from the left or right wing of the bird since using feathers from both wings in a single shuttle cock would affect the flight trajectory of that shuttle cock.
The shuttlecock’s feathers do indeed come from a goose or a duck.
The feathers used for producing one shuttlecock are 16 feathers from either
right or left wing. We don’t use feathers from both right and left wings for one
shuttlecock as this affects flight. Source: Yonex Shuttlecock facts
An employee of Victor Racquets Industrial Corp of Taiwan which manufactures shuttlecocks also seems to agree with the above view.
The goose feathers (and duck) are then sorted into left wing or right wing piles. Only 6 or 7 feathers (my source used the phrase "6 or 7 pieces of feathers" but I believe, from context, that this is just a mis-translation
from Taiwanese) from each wing can be used for shuttlecocks. Further, as feathers from left and right wings differ, a shuttle can have only feathers from one side of the goose. The 6 wings of 3 geese can produce 2 shuttlecocks (3 wings per shutte or 1.5 goose per shuttle, ignoring handedness). Source: Shuttle Construction
Flight of the shuttlecock also tends to be influenced by temperature, humidity and altitude.
During tournaments the shuttle flight distance can vary. This is because the
speed of the shuttle is influenced by changes in the playing conditions - for
example, heat and humidity that can change during the tournament. Source: Yonex Shuttle News
TL;DR: The feathered shuttlecocks used in badminton players are made up of 16 feathers either from the left or right wing of a goose or duck attached to a 'semi-ellipse' shaped cork.
As mentioned previously, the feather shuttlecock is made of 16 goose feathers with a skirt diameter of 65mm, mass is around 5.2 grams (g) and total length is approximately 85mm. Source: Flight trajectory simulation of badminton shuttlecocks