Thursday, August 16, 2007
Allopreening - Something To Look For
(Photos taken by Clarita Berger at the Tennessee Aquarium)
I have posted about preening before, but it’s worth mentioning again since you will see the penguins doing this in a variety of ways. In fact, you’ll see at least one of the penguins, somewhere in the exhibit, preening either on the rocks or in the water virtually all the time. Penguins have to maintain their feathers to ensure waterproofing and insulation. They use their beaks to smooth and straighten their feathers. They also use their beaks to spread a waxy substance from a gland at the base of their tail. Both preening techniques help penguins to stay waterproof and warm. Sometimes you’ll see the penguins swimming along on one side, wiggling and spraying water everywhere…this is a penguin bath. Bathing is another way birds keep their feathers in the best shape possible. Occasionally you’ll witness allopreening, or mutual preening. This is when two birds very gently preen each other. The pictures above are two of our macaroni penguins preening each other. They aren’t necessarily mates, but clearly they are friendly enough to spend some time together taking care of each other’s feathers.