Robin Preens its Feathers:
Clips and Viewing Guide
Video Clip #1: Preening
to see the robin preening his tummy feathers and then his left wing. Before
he starts, the robin spends some time preening his back and squeezing
his preen gland. This is a tiny, pimple-like bump on his lower back, right
above where his tail starts. The preen gland releases small droplets of
oil when the robin squeezes it. Then, when the robin preens, he uses his
beak to work the oil into his body feathers. The oil keeps the feathers
soft, supple, and in good condition. Preen gland oil works the way lotion
works for our skin. It protects it from drying out and getting brittle.
the robin preens his belly feathers and wing feathers, he starts preening
his head. Why do you think he use his claw to preen his face and neck?
(Answer: His beak can’t bend to reach these feathers.)
feels very good, but it requires the robin's attention. When this robin
is preening, he sometimes buries his face in his feathers for two or three
seconds. During this time he is not watching out for predators. This is
one reason why birds preen only when they are relaxed and in a safe place.
did this robin do before he started preening to ensure that he would be
(Answer: He looked around for several seconds.)
Video Clip #2: Preen Gland
After a few seconds of preening his breast and belly, the robin reaches
around to the base of his tail to squeeze his preen gland. This time he’s
doing this on the side we can easily see. Notice how he turns his tail
and lowers his wing to reach the middle of his lower back more easily.
He squeezes the preen gland several times before it releases its oil.
(The oil is clear so we can’t see it.) Then robin goes back to preening
his belly. Now, with a tiny bit of oil on his beak, he’s conditioning
you notice that he looks up every few seconds? No matter what robins do,
from the time they awaken in the morning until they go to sleep at night,
they are always alert.
Science Education Standards
- Each plant
or animal has different structures that serve different functions in
growth, survival, reproduction.
- The behavior
of individual organisms is influenced by internal cues (such as hunger)
and by external cues (such as a change in the environment).
is one kind of response an organism can make to an internal or environmental