Logging you in, please wait...
You are logged in
Log in to your account

Bird beauty: Flamingos paint their quills

From: Selected Treats,

29
October
2010
Bird beauty: Flamingos paint their quills

Earlier this week, ladies across the nation were made to feel guilty as it was revealed that the average British woman spends the equivalent of five days getting ready in front of the mirror each year.

A survey of 1,000 women conducted by QVC also found that in total, Brits use enough lipstick each day to be able to draw a line from London to New York, slap on 880 gallons of liquid foundation before facing the world and conduct more than 16 million sweeps of a mascara wand annually.

Just under forty percent of women admitted that they wouldn't consider leaving the house without make-up on, and twenty-five percent claimed that they see make-up as an essential, not a luxury. The final blow came in the form of the financial impact of our preening habits, as it emerged that women in the UK spend an average of £653.64 every year on beauty products, which adds up to more than an astounding £43,000 in a lifetime.

However, it seems that after the gasps and firm insistence that natural beauty is best, some of the beauty in nature isn’t that ‘natural’ after all. Researchers in Spain have found that flamingos (frequently seen as one of the world’s most beautiful birds thanks to their pretty pink plumage) effectively use make-up themselves to enhance the hue of their feathers.

Whilst observing the birds in their natural habitat, scientists noticed that the flamingos would use their cheeks to rub red coloured pigments from an oil gland near the base of their tails on their chest, back and neck. This ritual then boosted the intensity of the fuchsia flush, making them more attractive to possible mates.

The researchers explained that the pinker the animals were, the healthier they looked to others. Birds of the opposite sex could also tell that the preened bird had a good quality of life, as they were able to set aside time to make an effort with their appearance.

"The rubbing is time-consuming. And the more frequently the birds practise it, the more coloured they appear,” they told BBC News. "If the birds stop rubbing, [their] plumage colour fades in a few days because carotenoids [the pigments] bleach quickly in the sunlight."

Surprisingly and unlike many mating displays in the animal kingdom, the behaviour is more common in female flamingos than in males, the researchers said. Dr Juan Amat, from the Donana Biological Station in Spain, added that flamingos with the most intensely coloured feathers actually started breeding first and took the best breeding sites, which also gave them a reproductive advantage over their more muted rivals.

Though the old adage of ‘less is more’ certainly still applies, it just goes to show that a little bit of primping is certainly nothing to be ashamed of if it helps you look and feel your best.

Share this

Alison is a freelance journalist, blogger and life-long Londoner. A subject matter magpie and self-confessed make up junkie, if it's new, a little bit different and promises great things, she'll be onto it in a flash.

See my profile »

More Entries

Wahanda loves: Super-polishes

Wahanda loves: super strawberries

Spa of the week: Tylney Hall Hotel and Spa

Tried and tested: Perfect Posture Session at Anamaya

Wahanda guide: ironing out wrinkles with thermage

Tried and tested: Pre-wedding pamper package at Michaela Mitoi

Wahanda loves: summer spa-ing

Wahanda loves: Sweet summer nail art

Wahanda guide: Lee Garrett talks treating hair loss

Wahanda loves: shine in jewel tones this winter

Wahanda loves: skin soothing solutions for National Eczema Week

Wahanda guide: fix your feet and walk tall

Wahanda loves: post-holiday healing with essential oils

Wahanda news: Champneys Tring to launch fertility programme

Wahanda news: JooMo brings truly 'natural' beauty to UK shelves

Wahanda news: The Sanctuary joins Vogue's 'Fashion's Night Out'

Wahanda news: UK’s first children's acupuncture clinic opens in London

Wahanda loves: Olympic winners and their local spas

Wahanda news: Lifehouse Spa launches partnership with ESPA

Tried and tested: soothing spa kits from Keep Immaculate

Could a coffee fix improve your memory?

Wellness profile: Rebecca Mayhew

For fitness with a tree top twist, Go Ape

Is the secret to healthy eating written in the stars?

Turn back the clock with just a smile

Creativity's mane event: Psionics Hair Show 2011

Tried and tested: Vita Liberata self tan

Reassess your activity levels and improve your health

Revealing the June Wahandies winners - gentlemen, this month it's all about you!

Stress and the city

Seeing red?

Stay sun aware: stay safe

Hypnobirthing hits Hollywood

Could back pain shrink your brain?

The Bikini Workout from Sienna Spa

Giving Britain something to smile about

The price of junk food? Britain's health

Uplifting skin solutions from down under – tried and tested: Sasy n Savy

Melvita opens enchanting eco store in Putney

Camouflage and cunning cover ups

Wahanda visits the Vitality show

Hypoxi therapy: more than just hype

McIndoe and PharmEcosse Ltd investigate the healing power of insulin

Radisson brings the stars to Guildford

Tried and tested: high glamour blow-out at The Blow Bar, Islington

Life's a BLEACH at Topshop

Be the mane attraction

Drastic divorce makeovers and promotion-seeking plastic surgery

Brow lifts to lift the pain of migraines

Bring out the bunting and balloons for our birthday bash!

Shun Cupid and get glammed up

The Mere the merrier this Valentine's!

Help to mend rather than break hearts this February

Woo your date with dated bookings

Dare to bare for these Valentine's treatments

Will you be adding budget beauty treatments to your basket?

Food for thought: National Obesity Week

Up your berry intake and lower your blood pressure

Take the plunge and sign up for Swimathon 2011

Saving face: women are budgeting for Botox

Get your skates on!

Sort out your seasonally stressed skin

Are you tough enough to take on the Soldier Challenge?

Restore your joie de vivre at The Vitality Show 2011

Make a day of your mani at Nailgirls, Islington

All Brits want for Christmas is their two front teeth

For magical Christmas gifts, look no further than Wahanda

Merry Fish-mas!

Have yourself an Elemis-y Christmas

New Year, new you: 2011 toning-up trends

Plum: the new fragrance by Mary Greenwell

Bliss Christmas Customer Event

Blister busting Botox?

Wellness profile: Anne Biging

Wahanda on wellness: An interview with Anne Biging, Healing Hotels of the World

Give in to a gill-ty pleasure as Aqua Sheko comes to Soho

Downward dog; upward spirits

Posh pooch pampering at Harrods

The (bleached) end of perfect dye jobs?

Pre-Xmas fun with The Beauty Lounge

Slim without visiting the gym

Dream a little dream WITH me

Celebs turn their backs on Botox

Feed your gums

Fab craze or plain crazy? The chipped varnish manicure

Like a gym bunny...

Top pampering with lustre and bling

Jet set beauty

Eastthorpe set to raise brows as it goes HD

Stay slim; make sure your wallet’s bulging

Monday’s child is... lactose intolerant?

Salvage your skin: how to eliminate stretch marks

The mane attraction

It’s strictly pilates, darling

Stub out your smoking habit

Coming soon: sunshine in a tube?

Women prefer to see their cups half full

Stay sharp: let your mind (and body) wander

Say bye-bye to your BMI?

The Tan Factor comes to town

Acupuncture baby, yeah!

Apples and pears

Exercise, socialise and challenge mental health stigma

Science has spoken: beat stress with massage

Shimmer this winter with silver locks

Think before you ink: time to zap those tatts?

Weird and wonderful wellness mongrels

Injecting trust into the cosmetic industry

Polish those pinkies in aid of breast cancer charities

Tried and tested: the hottest thing in detoxing, Iyashi Dome

A stem cell smile?

A stitch and line reverses time

Top of the chocs

Think pink this October

Your health’s best friend?

Forget man flu, is there such thing as fat flu?

Store-hoppers: splash out and treat your feet!

The Minx effect

The ins and outs of Olympia Beauty 2010

Five alternative therapies that could help you stay fighting fit

Stealthy secret surgery figures soar

Ditch the itch this autumn

One feline's rehab is coming along swimmingly

Put your best foot forward

Turn that frown upside down

Sniffing out some original exercise

Is CO2 the anti-ageing jab for you?

Kayoga™ - hit the beach and strike a pose

Champneys champions Breast Cancer Care

Cupping and meditation: Jessica Simpson's path to tranquility

Treatment