Quirks & Quarks

Drumming birds lay down a wicked beat to impress the ladies

Spend enough time in the remote forests of Australia and you might be lucky enough to hear a cockatoo tap out a beat.

Meet Ringo Starr, the drumming cockatoo

4 years ago
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Meet Ringo Starr, the drumming cockatoo 1:01

When you hear a great drummer, like Rush's legendary Neil Peart, you're hearing something pretty special.

Drumming is one of those things that's almost universal in human cultures. Throughout history and around the world, it seems like one of the first things that occurs to people when they pick up a stick is to lay down a beat with it.

Neil Peart of the band Rush performs in concert. (Owen Sweeney/Invision/AP)

It turns out we're not alone. Spend enough time in the remote forests of Australia, like wildlife biologist and PhD candidate from the University of Queensland in Australia Christina Zdenek has, and you might be lucky enough to hear another animal tap out a rhythm. It's called the palm cockatoo, and Zdenek has found not only can these birds keep time, but they even make their own drum sticks to do it. 

Paper in journal Science Advances, Tool-assisted rhythmic drumming in palm cockatoos shares key elements of human instrumental music

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