All photographs copyright (2003-2013) by Kris H. Light

This Mallard drake is "preening", or cleaning his feathers. Since ducks use their feathers for floating on the water, they have to keep them free of dirt and parasites. They must keep the feathers oiled and waterproof in order to float and stay dry. Du...
This Mallard drake is "preening", or cleaning his feathers. Since ducks use their feathers for floating on the water, they have to keep them free of dirt and parasites. They must keep the feathers oiled and waterproof in order to float and stay dry. Ducks have a uropygial gland near the tail that secretes oils and waxes that the duck spreads over the feathers with its bill. Oil spills are devastating to water birds because they are unable to clean their feathers, if they try to, they eat the oil, which can be fatal.

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