Uropygial Gland (Preen Gland / Oil Gland)

This gland is located at the base of the tail in most avian species apart from some like ostriches and cockatoos.

This gland secretes a mixture of substances which will cover all the feathers in the process of preening carried out by the falcon when it touches the gland by its beak and wipe it on the feathers or when having a bath and the secretions will mix with water and cover all the feathers.

Function of the Uropygial Gland

  1. The secretions it produces keep the feathers, beak and skin of the falcon moist, soft and beautiful.
  2. The secretions contain inactive molecules of vitamin D and when exposed to sun light will become active vitamin D; the falcon will then ingest it when it drinks the water it was bathing in previously.
  3. The gland helps to get rid of excess water ingested by the falcon.
  4. Secretions from the gland play a key part in the immunity against bacteria, parasites and fungi.

Due to the active role the gland plays, the gland should be checked regularly, its shape, size and secretion produced should be monitored.

The gland can be subjected to various diseases for the following reasons:

  1. Poor diet and deficiency vitamin A deficiency.
  2. Bacterial or Fungal infection mainly due to wounds or injury.
  3. Cornification of some of the lining cells which may lead to blockage of the tubes or the gland opening.
  4. Development of tumor benign or malignant which may disturb the function of the gland.

Diagnosis

  1. Visual examination to check size, shape and nature of the secretions and comparing that with normal a gland.
  2. A laboratory examination of a sample of the secretion, to look at its composition.

Treatment

  1. External massage to evacuate the gland content, which most of the time causes blockage to the opening.
  2. Give vitamin A.
  3. Give antibiotics if there is bacterial infection.
  4. Give anti-fungal medicine if there is a fungal infection.
  5. Surgical intervention is sometimes required to remove a growth or cancerous tumor.

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