What do you call a pink bird who loves to socialize? A fla-mingle!
This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.
We all love to primp for a party – flamingos are no exception! They rub their cheeks on a gland by their tails to keep their feathers pink. This gland, called the uropygial gland, has a waxy serum that carries color pigments. The redder the feathers, the easier it is to attract a mate! But how do they make those super-sexy colors last??
Maria Cecilia Chiale and team from the National University of La Plata in Argentina wondered.
They measured the amount of color pigments in the feathers of thirty flamingos. The feathers faded in sunlight, losing almost sixty percent of their red-pink color after forty days. However, those with MORE waxy serum only lost twelve percent of their color.
Flamingos need to constantly “touch up” their feathers to find their boo! After successfully attracting a mate and hatching a chick, mama flamingos put away the makeup. Until next season, that is.
Talk about “Pretty in Pink!” Even birds love a good rom-com!
Reference: Chiale, M. C., Rendón, M. A., Labaude, S., Deville, A. S., Garrido Fernández, J., Pérez Gálvez, A., Garrido, A., Rendón Martos, M., Béchet, A., & Amat, J. A. (2021). The color of greater flamingo feathers fades when no cosmetics are applied. Ecology and Evolution, 11(20), 13773–13779. https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.8041