Collaborating Authors

Cockatoos drum to a beat

FOX News

The cockatoo is the only nonhuman animal on record to rhythmically drum with a customized "sound tool," but its reason for drumming isn't so different from that of many human musicians: These feathered Romeos are looking for love, the researchers found. During courtship, male cockatoos search for drumsticks, sometimes breaking a sturdy branch off a tree and trimming it down to about 8 inches (20 centimeters) in length. Then, the cockatoos rhythmically strike the tool against their nesting tree, wooing potential mates with a steady beat, the researchers said. "The female watches the male very closely, including the tool manufacture part, which demonstrates the power of the male's beak when he snips off the branch," said study lead researcher Robert Heinsohn, a professor in the Fenner School of Environment and Society at Australian National University. Heinsohn first came across the drumming cockatoos while studying a different parrot species on Cape York Peninsula in North Queensland, Australia, in 1997.

A Cockatoo and Its Snack


Humans may be the only creatures on Earth that create complex tools like bicycles and programming languages, but a handful of our animal cousins also make and use simple tools. Chimpanzees are known to use rocks as hammers to crack nuts, and some dolphins use marine sponges to search for food along the ocean floor. Recently, the Hawaiian'Alalā crow was welcomed to the tool using family when some individual members of that endangered bird species used sticks to ferret out insects for feeding.

Why Ravens and Crows Are Earth's Smartest Birds

National Geographic

Until the 21st century, birds were largely dismissed as simpletons. How smart can you be with a brain the size of a nut? And yet the more we study bird intelligence, the more those assumptions are breaking down. Studies have shown, for instance, that crows make tools, ravens solve puzzles, and parrots boast a diverse vocabulary. Birds make good use of the allotted space for their tiny brains by packing in lots of neurons--more so than mammals, in fact.

Iggy Pop has an adorable cockatoo named Biggy Pop


Biggy Pop, Rock n' roll Hall of Famer Iggy Pop's pet cockatoo, has a brand new, dedicated Instagram in which the sweet, yet totally punk, couple rock out to Iggy's favorite tunes. SEE ALSO: Fashionable cockatoo wants the world to know she's the boss Given that Iggy is a well-known animal lover, we're hoping for even more home movies in the future, with possible cameos from Iggy's other pets. No need for razors, when I offer up my extra special'Flintstone' in Fred. Yeah, we like to keep things old school in the Pop household........Bedrock style. Get ready, 'cause we're in the lobby.

Birds play sick jungle beat with drumsticks they make themselves

New Scientist

Male palm cockatoos have got rhythm too – and they also use their drumming skills to impress the ladies. The males have been filmed making drumsticks in the rainforests of northern Australia, and then drumming to a regular beat. The rhythmic drumming was first described in 1984, but this is the first detailed study of it. Palm cockatoos are the only species other than us known to make a musical tool or instrument, perform with that instrument and repeat musical patterns throughout the performance, says Robert Heinsohn at the Australian National University in Canberra. Over a seven-year period, Heinsohn and his colleagues have filmed and analysed more than 60 cockatoo drumming events in Queensland's Kutini-Payamu National Park.