If their mohawks didn’t already make them attractive enough to lady birds, these extraordinary cockatoos attract mates by drumming with their own hand-crafted drumsticks.
The palm cockatoo, native to the Cape York Peninsula in far North Queensland, has been named “the Ringo Starr of birds”, as they have quite a knack for keeping the beat.
“The icing on the cake is that the taps are almost perfectly spaced over very long sequences, just like a human drummer would do when holding a regular beat.”
This rhythmic revelation that they can recognize a beat places the palm cockatoo in a category belonging to few other species in the animal kingdom.
“Each of 18 male palm cockatoos, known for their shyness and elusiveness, was shown to have its own style or drumming signature,” said Professor Heinsohn. “Some males were consistently fast, some were slow, while others loved a little flourish at the beginning.”
“Such individual styles might allow other birds to recognize who it is drumming from a long way away.”
While these feathered musicians may not be writing tunes about an octopus, they are adept at creating love songs as part of a courtship ritual meant to seduce a mate, according to a painstaking study.
This research is part of an ongoing investigation of the palm cockatoo, its mating habits, and habitat loss in New Zealand. Since the birds are notoriously skittish, scientists have been stalking the birds with a video camera for the last seven years.
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Reprint (Photo by C. Zdenek)