Did you know that ducks have highly waterproof feathers? It makes sense, right? After all, they’d probably freeze in cold weather if something wasn’t helping to insulate them.
How do waterproof feathers work?
A duck’s waterproof feathers are due to the special oil that they produce.
Ducks have a special oil gland called the preen gland (also known as the uropygial gland) that is located at the base of their tail. They spread the oil over their feathers as they preen themselves.
This oil also keeps the duck’s feathers dry and helps it to float in water. And to top it off, it even contains antimicrobial properties that help to keep the duck’s feathers clean and free from harmful bacteria.
Duck feathers also trap air and provide insulation to keep them warm in cold water. And they have a unique structure that helps to repel water.
The feather shaft is made up of a hard, central quill surrounded by a series of barbs and barbules that interlock to create a flat surface. These barbs and barbules are arranged in a particular way that allows them to lock together tightly. This creates a barrier that prevents water from penetrating through the feather to the bird’s skin.
This unique feather structure is what allows ducks to stay warm and dry in wet environments and helps them to regulate their body temperature.
The beauty of duck feathers
Duck feathers aren’t just practical. They’re also beautiful in ways that humans can’t even see. Their colors aren’t always visible to the human eye.
Many duck feathers contain iridescent structural colors that are created by the way that light reflects off of the feather’s surface. This can create a range of different colors and patterns, from bright greens and blues to deep purples and reds.
Male ducks often have brightly colored feathers that are used to attract mates during the breeding season. For example, male mallards have distinctive green heads and necks, while male wood ducks have a colorful pattern of red, green, and white feathers on their faces and bodies. — WTF fun facts