Which verb most accurately and commonly describes a bird's daily behavior to make its feathers clean and organized.

  • "organize" its feathers

  • "brush" its feathers

  • "clean" its feathers?

  • Thanks for the fantastic question, new user. Just for your information, we have a special tag for this - SWR. The site is famous for it!
    – Fattie
    Nov 24 '18 at 4:20
  • 2
    as is 'to plume'
    – lbf
    Nov 24 '18 at 14:49

The verb is to preen:

[ I or T ] If a bird preens or preens itself, it cleans and arranges its feathers using its beak.

(Cambridge Dictionary)

enter image description here

preening macaw parrot

From (blog.parrotessentials.co.uk)

  • 2
    A question. An answer. This mustn't be the internet.
    – Fattie
    Nov 24 '18 at 4:18
  • undeleted now ?
    – lbf
    Nov 29 '18 at 14:10
  • @lbf - apparently so, not by myself, though.
    – user 66974
    Nov 29 '18 at 14:16
  • That is a great word
    – user387044
    Jan 17 '21 at 7:02

To preen is the primo answer. OED provided by @user240918

intransitive. Of a bird: to tend its feathers with its beak, arranging, cleaning, and generally maintaining them.

consideration to alternatives:

to plume OED

b. Of a bird: to preen or trim (the feathers or wings). Also fig. (frequently with the suggestion of preparation for something, as a bird preens prior to flight).

As in:

1998 Anchorage (Alaska) Daily News (Nexis) Delap admired the bird as it clambered out on the ice and plumed its feathers ...

to groom OED

transitive. Of an animal: to clean the skin, hair, etc., of (another of its family or group). Also reflexive: to clean and tidy itself.

As in: Social Psychology google books

If all birds in an interacting population were to operate on a rule of uncontingent altruism, things would go well for them; each individual would sometimes bear the costs of grooming and sometimes enjoy the benefits of being groomed.

  • Why discount preen? It is the primo answer...
    – Jim
    Nov 24 '18 at 18:33
  • 1
    @Jim I agree! 46 upvotes ... then it's deleted!
    – lbf
    Nov 24 '18 at 19:20
  • 1
    Oh! I see. Was on my phone so didn’t see the deleted answer. :-). I have voted to undelete.
    – Jim
    Nov 24 '18 at 19:24

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