preen gland

preen gland

▪ bird anatomy
also called  Uropygial, or Oil, Gland,  

      in birds, an organ located on the back near the base of the tail. Paired or in two united halves, it is found in most birds. Absent in ostrich, emu, cassowary, bustard, frogmouth, and a few other birds, the oil gland is best-developed in aquatic species, notably petrels and pelicans, and in the osprey and oilbird.

      The secretions of the preen gland empty to the skin surface through one or more nipplelike pores. Most birds preen by rubbing their bill and head over the preen gland pore and then rubbing the accumulated oil over the feathers of the body and wings and the skin of the legs and feet. The oil is thought to help preserve the integrity of feather structure and, in some species, is also believed to be useful in preserving the horny structure of the bill and the scales of the legs and feet. It has also been speculated that, in at least some species, the oil contains a substance that is a precursor of vitamin D. This precursor substance is thought to be converted to vitamin D by the action of sunlight and then absorbed through the skin. Many ornithologists maintain that the function of the preen gland differs among various species of birds.

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Universalium. 2010.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • preen gland — noun oil secreting gland situated at the base of the tail in most birds • Syn: ↑uropygial gland • Hypernyms: ↑oil gland • Part Holonyms: ↑bird * * * noun Etymology: pre …   Useful english dictionary

  • preen gland. — See uropygial gland. [1920 25] * * * …   Universalium

  • preen gland — noun Ornithology a gland at the base of a bird s tail which produces the oil used in preening …   English new terms dictionary

  • preen gland. — See uropygial gland. [1920 25] …   Useful english dictionary

  • preen gland — a large compound alveolar structure on the back of birds, above the base of the tail, which secretes an oily waterproof material that the bird applies to its feathers and skin by preening. Called also uropygial g …   Medical dictionary

  • preen-gland — …   Useful english dictionary

  • preen — & refl. 1 (of a bird) tidy (the feathers or itself) with its beak. 2 (of a person) smarten or admire (oneself, one s hair, clothes, etc.). 3 (often foll. by on) congratulate or pride (oneself). Phrases and idioms: preen gland a gland… …   Useful english dictionary

  • preen — I. noun Etymology: Middle English prene, from Old English prēon; akin to Middle High German pfrieme awl Date: before 12th century 1. dialect chiefly British pin 2. dialect chiefly British brooch II. transitive verb …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Uropygial gland — The uropygial gland, or, more informally, the preen gland is a gland found in the large majority of birds that secretes an oil (preen oil) that birds use for preening. The chief compounds of preen oil are diester waxes called uropygiols.The gland …   Wikipedia

  • oil gland — 1. See uropygial gland. 2. See sebaceous gland. [1825 35] * * * ▪ anatomy       any of a variety of skin structures that secrete oily or greasy substances of various functions. In birds, the preen gland, or uropygial gland, located on the back at …   Universalium

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