Also known as Bird or Shuttle.
The official name for the object that the players must hit. Shuttlecocks come in two types: feather (for intermediate and expert players) and plastic (for beginners).
Feather shuttles are made of 16 goose feathers attached to a cork base covered with leather; unfortunately, they don't last very long - it's not uncommon for international players to go through 20-30 in one game. Plastic shuttles cost more, but last a lot longer, suiting them well for players starting out.
The heavier the shuttlecock, the faster it flies. Feather shuttles exhibit a more consistent flight pattern, and tend to fly faster.