Think of a large, fluffy, colorful feather and you are imagining a plume, something that can be used decoratively, often in hats or vases, just as it creates a decorative element for the bird it comes from.
We can trace the present word plume was probably taken from the Old English word plūmfether. Going back further, we can find the Latin pluma meaning "feather" or "down." Plume is often applied to a large puff of smoke or any mass that spreads into the air from a single source. If you see a plume of smoke coming from the chimney, the fireplace is going. If you see a plume of smoke coming from the window, call the fire department.