We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

Do Any Animals Use Cosmetics?

Bearded vultures are found in many parts of the world, from southern Europe and the east coast of Africa to the Middle East and the Himalayas. They have naturally white plumage on their head, neck, and underbelly. As they age, however, they begin to intentionally dye those feathers an orange-red color with mud from iron-rich soils. Scientists think they do this to indicate their status. The intensity of the coloration depends on age and gender. Older birds, especially females, display stronger pigmentation.

Vulture vanity:

  • A bearded vulture often handles conflict by puffing out and displaying its fabulous dyed feathers.
  • The birds first dip their undersides in the mud, then use their beaks and talons to spread the tint from foot to neck. They dye their heads by rubbing them against their stained shoulders.
  • Bearded vultures love to dine on bone marrow; they get at it by dropping large bones from high cliffs. The bones shatter, and dinner is served.
Discussion Comments
By anon998024 — On Apr 02, 2017

Maybe the mud has some properties that fight infection or pests?

By anon996650 — On Sep 22, 2016

Find this info hard to believe. I believe the birds are preening themselves,and not dying themselves. The coloration would come naturally from the color of the mud.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.