Uropygial - Preening Gland

The uropygial gland, which is more commonly known as the preening gland, is a gland that most birds have. This gland is located on the back of the base of the bird's tail. The uropygial gland secrets an oily substance and birds then spread it throughout their feathers with their beaks. While a bird preens, it very gently rubs its beak up against the gland and then rubs it along the barbs of each of its feathers. Birds begin this common ritual at the quill which is the inside part of the follicle underneath the skin, and then work their way up to the tip, spreading the oil over its feathers while at the same time grooming and arranging their feathers. They spread this oil throughout their whole bodies and in the difficult to reach areas, such as their heads, they use their claws to spread it on. Preening is important for birds because it helps to keep their feathers waterproof and it keeps their skin and feathers flexible. This oil also causes the bird's feathers to become a little sticky and this is why birds then like to bathe in order to wash off the excess oil. This is also another way birds get rid of the loose feathers.

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