I have been talking to Sally Nye who with her husband David, has done some amazing research throughout Russia, Europe and the USA on fan birds.
A story from the comments section of an article they wrote:
"We had heard many times that the lumberjacks, or woodsmen, in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, would make these birds in the evening while gathered around a fire for warmth and companionship. Once completed the birds would be tossed into a box to be used as kindling by the cook come morning to get the wood stove started. Many of these men were of Finnish or Scandinavian descent. They are beautiful that mass production can't compare."(sic)
I would never dream of doing such a thing, but I have burnt many failed ones myself, and I have had a fair few failures, or ones that get broken. This attitude reminds me that there is great joy in doing, and that it is not always the outcome that is important, but the making. Anyway David and Sally's website is http://www.FanCarversWorld.com/index.html
On another note I just want to show how the feathers are rived, i.e. split, just like splitting firewood but more controlled. Often I have noticed how the wood split follows the grain; the photo below is not the most extreme example of this but look at the bottom 10 feathers and you will see the kink.