Watch: Dancing, head-banging cockatoo busts out rock moves
Dancing cockatoo Snowball’s ‘diversity of movements’ attracted the attention of researchers, who say that he has significantly grown his repertoire since bursting onto the scene.
A cockatoo who became a YouTube sensation for his dancing has added a bunch of new moves to his repertoire.
Snowball became a social media star in 2007 thanks to a YouTube video of him rocking out to the Backstreet Boys’ hit “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back),” SWNS reports.
Back then, the sulphur-crested cockatoo’s signature moves included bobbing his head, stamping his feet and kicking his leg in the air to the beat.
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Snowball’s “diversity of movements” attracted the attention of researchers, who worked with him and say the bird has significantly expanded his repertoire. After filming the cockatoo dancing to ’80s classics “Another One Bites the Dust” and “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” scientists recorded 14 different dance moves. These included “head-banging,” a “body roll” and what researchers dubbed “Vogue,” where the cockatoo moves his head from one side of his lifted foot to the other.
The research is published in the journal Current Biology.
In their study, the scientists note that spontaneous movement to music, which is the foundation of dance, is absent in most species, including monkeys, yet it occurs in parrots. This may be because parrots, like humans, are “vocal learners whose brains contain strong auditory–motor connections,” the study’s authors say.
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“One important difference between Snowball’s dancing and human dancing is that Snowball danced in short episodes rather than continuously,” the researchers added. However, the bird’s owner notes that he moves more continuously if a human dances with him, which researchers plan to study.
“Snowball is not unique: other examples of diversity in parrot movement to music can be found on the Internet,” the researchers added. “A key question, however, is how such moves are acquired.”
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While parrots can imitate movements, researchers are intrigued by the possibility that some moves may reflect creativity. “This would also be remarkable, as creativity in nonhuman animals has typically been documented in behaviors aimed at obtaining an immediate physical benefit, such as access to food or mating opportunities,” the study’s authors explain. “Snowball does not dance for food or in order to mate; instead, his dancing appears to be a social behavior used to interact with human caregivers (his surrogate flock).”
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