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Sunday, July 2, 2017

Palm Cockatoos Keep the Beat to Impress the Ladies

The number of animals who use tools keeps expanding. Another thing we once thought was for humans only is music. Sure, birds sing songs, but now we know they can play the drums, too. The male palm cockatoo (Probosciger aterrimus) carefully selects a "drumstick" (a stick or seedpod or some other object), and beats out a rhythm to impress females during mating season. Australian researchers spent seven years collecting data and ended up with recordings of 131 drum sessions.
"Each of 18 male palm cockatoos, known for their shyness and elusiveness, was shown to have its own style or drumming signature," lead author Rob Heinsohn of Australian National University said in a statement.
"Some males were consistently fast, some were slow, while others loved a little flourish at the beginning."
Heinsohn said the unique rhythms could act like a signature or a call sign, identifying each bird as its beats ring through the forest.

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