Just curious, but is there a way to use particles to create feathers? Or is there an easier way? Like say for a cerimonial head dress.

Probably…if you created a feather then made it an emitter than if u duplicated it around your object you probably could do that…

You could create an object with a feature texture and alpha map then parent it to a particle emitter with dupliverts on.

Or you can just place them all manually.

Yes, if you parent the feather mesh to the emitter, and turn on dupliverts. The problem with using particles or dupliverts is getting individual feathers to rotate individually. In something like a headdress, each feather is rotated in one or two axes differently from its neighboring feather, even if only by a little. Probably your best bet is to make a single feather as an image mapped on a plane (see tutorials on leaves or card hair), then duplicate and place each one manually.