Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis), La Jolla, California January 2016. It's fascinating to observe Brown Pelicans preening; these massive birds twist and contort their necks and bodies as they clean, fluff, and oil their feathers; they are very thorough and careful to groom every inch of their feathered exterior. Pelicans and most species of birds have a uropygial gland (oil gland) that secretes preening wax; ostrich, emu, doves, and woodpeckers do not possess the gland. The gland is located on their dorsum (back) above the tail; pelicans access the gland with their beaks and distribute the waxy substance to their feathers via a relentless ritual of rubbing, biting, and stroking. The oil maintains the health and water resistance of the feathers. Note the exposed Uropygial gland above the tail. Canon 5D III, 100-400mm IS Mark II, ISO 400, 1/250 second @ F/7.1, image size 3786 x 4594 pixels.
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