Went to a sports shop and bought few real feathers they use in fly-fishing. Scanned them and made the two images below in photoshop.
I also did some R&D on how to attach the feathers on the bird while having them to stick on the surface while it deforms. The following two playblast clips shows my results so far (both about 1mb).
- About 1200 poly planes attached to a poly sphere which has a twist deformer.
- 540 poly planes attached to a poly cylinder which has a bend deformer.
My method seems to work but it's pretty slow to evaluate