Blog Archive: 2019

Birdorable Turkey Vulture

Bird Term: Allopreening

February 14th, 2019 in Bird Terms No comments
Allopreening Turkey Vultures

Allopreening refers to one animal preening another. While preening and grooming are usually individual actions, in some species, birds or animals will preen one another. This occurs in birds as well as other classes of animal.

We previously mentioned allopreening when discussing vultures during Vulture Week in 2015. The post Glossary of Vulture Terms explained, in part, that "allopreening refers to social grooming between multiple individuals, often performed to strengthen social bonds."

Social bonds may not be the only reason that birds preen or groom one another. Allopreening is most common in species that tend to gather in large flocks. In these species, birds in frequent close proximity to each other are more likely to transfer parasites amongst the close-knit group. Allopreening in these species helps to keep pests like ticks under control.

Allopreening between mated pairs of birds occurs more often in species where both the male and female raise their offspring together. The preening ritual may help strengthen the longer-lasting bond. In mated pairs where the birds may be separated for a long period of time, allopreening is part of a greeting ritual. For example, this type of allopreening occurs when male and female penguins are reunited after a long incubation shift where one of the mates was feeding at sea for days or weeks.

Allopreening may also help to reduce conflict or tensions among large flocks or breeding colonies of birds. The social structure of the colony plays a large part in who receives preening and how much.

Allopreening Eurasian Spoonbills
Allopreening Eurasian Spoonbills by Amy Evenstad
Allopreening Black Vultures
Allopreening Black Vultures by Judy Gallagher (CC BY 2.0)
Allopreening Arrow-marked Babblers
Allopreening Arrow-marked Babblers by Derek Keats (CC BY 2.0)
Birdorable Western Grebe

Baby Birdorable: Western Grebe

February 4th, 2019 in Baby Birds, Grebes No comments

If you think our Birdorable birds are cute as adults, what about when they are babies? Below are some baby photos (shared via Flickr Creative Commons) of the Western Grebe.

The male and female in a mated Western Grebe pair build the nest together. The nest is built from material found underwater, used to build a supportive mound on water or adjacent to water. Incubation is done by both partners and takes around 24 days. Within minutes of leaving the egg, chicks are able to climb upon the back of a parent. The adults take turns swimming with and feeding the chicks.

Nesting Western Grebes
Nesting Western Grebes by USFWS Mountain-Prairie (CC BY 2.0)
Baby Grebe
Baby Grebe by USFWS Mountain-Prairie (CC BY 2.0)
Western Grebe and chicks by
Western Grebe and chicks by USFWS Mountain-Prairie (CC BY 2.0)
Western Grebes Have Baby Races Too by
Western Grebes Have Baby Races Too by USFWS Mountain-Prairie (CC BY 2.0)
Western Grebe Carrying a Baby Grebe on Its Back
Western Grebe Carrying a Baby Grebe on Its Back by USFWS Mountain-Prairie (CC BY 2.0)