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Palm Cockatoos - Different Drummers

Male Palm Cockatoos keep the beat during courtship, creating tools to make music! Researchers with the Robert Heinsohn lab at the Australian National University documented that the wild "Palmies" in the population on Cape York Peninsula in far north Queensland engage in the unique behavior of using "...a modified stick or seedpod to strike a hollow tree limb repeatedly during their vocal and visual display," their drumming keeping a regular beat.

Male Palm Cockatoo at nest in Cape York Peninsula, far north Queensland

The male Palm Cockatoo breaks off a branch with his powerful beak before trimming it to use as a drumstick:

A Male Palm Cockatoo breaking off a branch to use as a drumstick

A Male Palm Cockatoo

A pair of Palm Cockatoos at a nest hole:

Male and female Palm Cockatoos at nest hole

Wildlife biologist Christina Zdenek took these photos during field work with the Palm Cockatoo Project.

Read the original scientific paper by Robert Heinsohn, Christina Zdenek, et al. —
Tool-assisted rhythmic drumming in palm cockatoos shares key elements of human instrumental music

Check out this BirdNote show about the remarkable drumming Palm Cockatoos:

Palm Cockatoo Gets The Girl

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All photos © Christina Zdenek and may not be used without permission.

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