Uropygial gland

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uropygial gland

A compound alveolar gland of birds located on the dorsum of the tail or pygostyle; the secretion of this gland (fatty acids and wax) exits from a papilla on the dorsal surface at the base of the tail feathers; the bird applies the substance to its feathers by means of the bill when preening. The uropygial gland is lacking in some species but its waterproofing ability is essential to water birds.

Synonym: glandula uropygius, oil glands, preen gland.