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How are birds' feathers waterproofed? © Getty Images

How are birds' feathers waterproofed?

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Birds are able to keep their plumage waxy and water-repellent even in the wettest conditions by preening tail to top.

Asked by: Oliver Lai, Port Louis

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Birds pick up oil on their beaks, by rubbing against the uropygial or preen gland near the tail, and then rub it over their feathers. This coating insulates the interlocking barbules in the feather. As water cannot penetrate through the oil coating, the feather is waterproof.


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Authors

luis villazon
Luis VillazonQ&A expert

Luis trained as a zoologist, but now works as a science and technology educator. In his spare time he builds 3D-printed robots, in the hope that he will be spared when the revolution inevitably comes.

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