Feather care in birds

on 1st June 2009

“Healthy feathers are a top priority for birds as this ensures their long term survival, and their ability to attract a mate for procreation.

“Bills are used to preen their feathers, as their forelimbs have been adapted to wings.

“Bills clean individual feathers, scratching with feet are also done, bathing in water or dusting. Dusting is when a bird wriggles in dust or sand, tosses fine particles over its wings and body, then rubs it into plumage and shakes it off again. This removes excess preen-oil from feathers, and keeps them grease free. Besides, this also helps to remove parasites such as lice and mites

“There are birds that regularly waterproof their feathers with oil from the preen-gland enabling them to spend long periods of time floating on the surface of the water. This again is done using the bill, which collects the oil from the special preen-gland just above the base of their tail and spreads the oil across the surface of their feathers.”

KC Tsang
11th May 2009

Image of the Lineated Barbet (Megalaima lineata) preening by KC Tsang.

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

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