Rolling Off a Duck’s Back

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Ducks and other water fowl need protection from the elements. Fortunately for them, the structure of their feathers cleverly helps them shed water. As seen in this video, feathers have tiny hooks, called barbicels, that act like Velcro, zipping the individual barbs of a feather together to keep water out. When birds preen, they’re using their bills to rezip any sections that came loose. They also use their bills to spread a waxy substance onto the feathers to give them even more waterproofing. All together, these measures help the birds keep out cold water and trap warm air in the down near their skin. (Image and video credit: Deep Look)

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