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Preen Gland...Please READ before heeding VETS (even if they are "AVIAN VETS")


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Thanks for the information on the Preen Gland Grygoose.


Here is a little more information on the Preen Gland in a snippet from an AVM:


"Examination of the uropygial gland should be a routine part of every feather-picking and seizuring bird's physical examination. Test this by gently rolling the wick through your fingers, and then checking your fingers for a greasy spot). If no secretion is seen, then gently massage the gland (bilobed, heart-shaped) and then check the wick again. The normal uropygial gland produces vitamin D3 precursors that are preened onto the feathers. Upon exposure to ultraviolet light (particularly UVB), the precursors will be converted to active D3, which will then be ingested when the bird preens again. So, if an African Grey is suffering from seizures, always check the uropygial gland and make sure that it is producing a secretion.


Some birds with hypovitaminosis A will have squamous metaplasia of the uropygial gland, and it will not be functioning properly. Those birds should receive a supplement of beta-carotene to correct the squamous metaplasia. Beta-carotene capsules can be purchased at any pharmacy. It is provided in a capsule containing a red liquid. A hole can be poked in the end of the capsule, and the bird may then be given a drop orally twice per week, or as indicated. Since beta-carotene is converted to active vitamin A, and the rest will be excreted unchanged, it is very safe and non-toxic. Supplementation with vitamin A can result in overdose, which can be dangerous, even life-threatening. Red palm oil is another source of beta-carotene. Other birds may have plucked out the wick feathers, making extraction of the secretion difficult or impossible.


For activation of the uropygial gland secretion, a bird needs exposure to natural, unfiltered sunlight (not through glass or plastic) or exposure to a full-spectrum fluorescent light (changed regularly as recommended by the manufacturer and placed within 18 inches of the cage). While formulated diets should contain adequate amounts of vitamin D3, any birds, especially greys, with calcium problems should always have the uropygial gland evaluated, and it should be recommended that they receive some sunlight or full-spectrum artificial lighting. Some species of psittacines do not possess an uropygial gland (including Amazon parrots, hyacinth macaws) and emus, ostriches, cassowaries, bustards, frogmouths, many pigeons and woodpeckers do not possess one, either.


It has been observed that African Greys living outdoors (and exposed to natural sunlight) rarely suffer from seizures, so it seems clear that the interrelation between the uropygial gland, ultraviolet light and vitamin D3 are responsible for normal calcium homeostasis in the African Grey parrots, and most likely in other African species.

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