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Preening gland

6916 Views 4 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  Sensfan
Last week I listened to a speaker who was a photographer who specialized in water fowl. During the talk he mentioned the preen gland of some ducks and how they use their feet to get the oil to hard to reach place.
Then a few days ago a linnie owner was talking about his linnie having a clogged preen gland. So this peeked my interest, as I have never really thought much about the preen gland.

Here is just a small amount of information, that I found. There is a ton out there and some very technical.

Most birds have a preen gland or uropygial gland. This gland is found near the base of the tail. The bird uses its head or beak to transfer the oil to its feathers and skin of legs and feet. This oil helps keep the feathers supple, strong and keeps them from drying out.
The skin of a bird is almost without glands but most do have the preen gland.

Birds such as the emu and ostrich do not have this gland and use other means to keep their feathers clean.

Problems with the preen gland are usually a result of lack of Vitamin A.

Some ornithologists feel the function of this gland differs among species.
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Cockatoos are one of the exceptions too. They don't have a preen gland. They have a fourth type of feather which continues to grow and breaks off creating the powder down which they keep their feathers clean and waterproof with. This is the white powder that you get on you when you play with a Cockatoo. These feathers are found underneath the wings around the hip area of the bird. All members of the cockatoo family have this. With a black cockatoo it is a black coloured dust, Galah's it is a grey colour. When a cockatoo has PBFD they do not develop these feathers and this is one of the main causes of the feather loss in them. A healthy Sulphur Crested Cockatoo always has a dusty appearance to their black beak. I have found it does not really develop the powder down properly until they are about 4 to 6 months of age. If a Sulphur older than this has a glossy black beak it has a problem with it's powder down or is not preening properly.

If I am wearing a dark coloured top and my Charlie gives me a cuddle I end up with white dust all down my front and sleeves.
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Yes, I read about this powder dust. Fascinating. And I know that cockatoos and others have these special feathers. I had not read any thing about the cockatoo not having the preen gland . I know I have read that macaws don't have the preen gland and that is why regular misting is really important for them.
Yes they have a preening gland but they also have the powder down. This extra feather is really interesting. It doesn't moult out when the bird moults, it continues to grow and breaks off creating the dust. Some of the Macaws don't have a preening gland and Amazons don't have one either.

It is the preening gland that also secretes Vitamin D which is produced from sunlight. It is UVA and UVB that is essential in the production of Vitamin D which allows the absorption of Calcium in the system. This is why birds require at least 15 minutes per day of natural sunlight. That is sun that has not passed through glass, plastic, perspex, fly screen or shade cloth. These all filter out the UVA and UVB and renders the sunlight basically useless.

The cockatoos have the gland but it is not used for preening the feathers and keeping them clean. I should have said in my previous post that they have one but don't use it as other birds do for preening.
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Fascinating! I'm glad linnies aren't dusty though.. have enough of that already :lol:
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