What Makes WATER REPEL Off The Ducks?

1234duck

Songster
9 Years
Jan 6, 2011
760
19
171
Upper Lake, California
How & what makes the water repel off the ducks feathers? I thought ducklings needed to get the oil area/spot wet at a young age for the water to start repelling off their feathers? Is this only done if the ducklings are with a mommy duck? ~ It looks like the water is repelling off my Lucky Ducky when he gets wet. Thanks, ~Julie~
 

NYRIR

Crowing
9 Years
May 13, 2010
3,080
28
256
Petersburg,NY
Ducks have an oil gland at the end of their backs above the tail.They rub their bill on this gland a it secretes oils out.They then "preen" and rub the oils all over their bodies. WaLa! Insta-Water Repellent!
 

PlumTuckered

Songster
12 Years
Jun 27, 2007
1,131
12
204
Arkansas
Ducks have an oil gland at the base of the body (more or less where the body and tail meet). After the duckling is a few weeks old the gland starts to produce oil which the duck spreads throughout the feathers while preening. That oil makes the water bead up on their feathers.

Michelle
 

desertdarlene

Crowing
9 Years
Aug 4, 2010
4,489
105
283
San Diego
I think ducklings get oil from their mom, at first. I've also heard that ducklings who swim regularly tend to start producing their own oil earlier.

There was someone here that said the oil had nothing to do with ducklings being waterproof, but it had more to do with keeping the feathers in good condition due to the fact that ducks are in the water a lot. But, I do notice that ducklings that live with their mom tend to have more water beading off of them and look less soaked after a long period of swimming than ducks raised without their mom.
 

PlumTuckered

Songster
12 Years
Jun 27, 2007
1,131
12
204
Arkansas
That's right Darlene, ducklings hatched and raised by Mamma Duck are protected by her oils. Ducklings hatched by us don't have that protection so we really need to be sure we don't let them get waterlogged.

Michelle
 

Speceider

Songster
8 Years
Apr 4, 2011
1,169
121
161
Half truths here. A duckling's uropygial gland starts to develop at 7 days, is generally fully functional at 14 day. The oil from the gland serves 2 main purposes....1 feather maintenance (why do humans use conditioner?), and there is the suggestion of an anti-bacterial component to help maintain feather integuity, additionall, in some birds, it will alter plumage appearance to other birds. It DOES not provide water rellency. Water relllency comes from the contact angle the feathers make with the water (Rijke, 1970. Ostrich Supplement 8:67-76). Scanning electron micrographs show that the overlapping of feather barbs and barbules creates a contact angle similar to the contact angle produced by Gor-Tex, which provides water rellency. The importance of maintaining feather quality is DIRECTLY related to maintaining feather water rellency. Take a look at: Stettenhelm, P.R. 2000. The integumentary morphology of modern birds: an overview. American Zoologist 40:461-477.

Clint
 

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