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David Guertin <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Vermont Skiing Discussion and Snow Reports <[log in to unmask]>
Sun, 16 Dec 2012 09:23:18 -0500
text/plain (29 lines)
PJ has it right. If the waterfowl's down was oiled, it would lose its 
insulating abilities just as much as our down coat would if it gets wet. 
Ironically, when birds die in oil spills, it's partly because they get 
so soaked in oil that the down gets soaked too.

When a bird preens, it's realigning the feather barbs on the outer 
feathers, at the same time coating them with a thin layer of oil from 
the sebaceous gland. (The sebaceous gland is located at the base of the 
tail -- that's why when you see a bid preening it's always poking around 
the base of its tail.) Down feathers have no barbs, so there's nothing 
to realign.

Dave G., bird guy filling in for the absent JustinW

On 12/16/2012 01:32 AM, comprex wrote:
> The surface feathers are oil coated, but I don't know that the down
> proper is  oil-coated.
> Why would it be, if the surface barrier is sufficient?   Oil in the
> down would mat the down, make it heavier, make it colder to the bird.
> And, since birds don't sweat, there's no significant source of water
> between the surface barrier and the skin?
> PJ

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