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Humans have been enhancing their looks with make-up since ancient times. Now it seems that so have flamingos - Their color of choice? Pink of course!
The amazing revelation was made by scientists from Spain's Donana biological station, who have been observing the tall birds for three years now. The fact that the vain birds are constantly preening their feathers has been observed for many years. Not only does it help them look less disheveled, but also, spread a waterproof oil which secretes from a gland at the base of their tails. This oil, also happens to contain reddish-orange pigments called carotenoids.
It appears that the smart birds have figured out that if they apply this oil on their bodies vigorously for long amounts of time, it enhances their pink color even further, making them look quite attractive. They therefore seem to be deliberately rubbing their cheeks against the glands, and then spreading the oil onto their breasts and back feathers.
Since the carotenoids bleach quickly due to the sun, the birds are constantly doing this - However, even more astonishing is the fact that they increase their pace markedly during mating season. And, according to the scientists, the extra effort seems to pay off, since the 'pinkest' females appear to lay the first eggs every year. And we thought it was just humans who were vain about how they looked!
With their amazing pink color, long legs and hook-like bills, flamingos are one of the most recognizable birds in the world. They get distinctive color from the carotenoid pigments of the algae and the small crustaceans, which form a large part of their diet. These social birds who usually live in groups of hundreds or even thousands, reside in lakes and can be found in many parts of the world - Ranging from North and South America to Europe, Asia and even Africa.