Variable feather overlap enables birds to morph their wings, unlike aircraft. They accomplish this feat by means of elastic compliance of connective tissue, which passively redistributes the overlapping flight feathers when the skeleton moves to morph the wing planform. Distinctive microstructures form “directional Velcro,” such that when adjacent feathers slide apart during extension, thousands of lobate cilia on the underlapping feathers lock probabilistically with hooked rami of overlapping feathers to prevent gaps. These structures unlock automatically during flexion. Using a feathered biohybrid aerial robot, we demonstrate how both passive mechanisms make morphing wings robust to turbulence. We found that the hooked microstructures fasten feathers across bird species except silent fliers, whose feathers also lack the associated Velcro-like noise. These findings could inspire innovative directional fasteners and morphing aircraft.