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Word of the Week: Preening
January 07, 2022 by High Park Nature Centre

Welcome to Word of the Week! Stay tuned for a new word each week to amp up your nature vocabulary!

The word of the week is preening [PREE-NING] (verb): the feather grooming and maintenance behaviour displayed by birds. Preening involves birds removing dirt, excess oil, and parasites from their feathers. It also helps them realign their feathers and improve their aerodynamic performance.

When preening, a bird grasps a feather near its base and nibbles along the shaft toward the tip with a quivering motion. Doing so helps clean and smooth its feathers. Many birds use the oily secretions from their oil glands, and then spread them on their feathers with their bills as they preen. Allopreening refers to a form of social grooming among birds, in which one bird preens another or a pair does so mutually.

The image above shows a Black-crowned Night Heron preening its feathers. Preening is extremely common behaviour among birds and you can often see a bird preening several times a day.

Resources:

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology: https://academy.allaboutbirds....


Interested in improving upon your nature knowledge? Sign up for our online naturalist courses and become a budding naturalist yourself! We have a whole course dedicated to learning all about the birds in Toronto and to improve upon your birding skills.

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