Preening is an action taken by waterfowl and other birds to clean their feathers. The birds even have a special Preen gland where oil is stored that they use on their feathers. With the birds that area often around or on the water in lakes, ponds, and streams, this is especially important. Keeping the oils evenly distributed helps the bird shed water and stay afloat easier. Preening also keeps the feathers cleaner and fluffy, which is very important when the bird is flying. Of course, preening does also help keep the bird healthier by being cleaner, and keeps parasites down.
I am showing a variety of birds preening. The bird will pick at its feathers using its bill or beak to smooth the feathers, pick out unwanted items or parasites, and spread any oils to the spots on the body where nature intends those oils to be located at. I also see birds using their feet and legs to spread their oil along feathers. Sometimes, you also may see birds helping one another out by preening their mates or young. Usually the birds preen for themselves. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the picture. Enjoy!