This Cockatoo Creates Its Own Dance Moves, and Scientists Say That’s a Big Deal

Photo Credit: Pixabay

It all started, as so many things do, with a YouTube video. This video featured Snowball™, a cockatoo with some smooth dance moves who was getting down to music by the Backstreet Boys.

Naturally, scientists were intrigued. Researchers started by establishing that the cockatoo could dance to a beat, which is a phenomenon that had only been observed in humans, not animals. During the course of that study, researcher Aniruddh Patel, a psychology professor at Tufts University, couldn’t help but notice the cockatoo’s smooth dance moves.

He wanted to investigate further.

The researchers started a new study, recording the bird’s dance moves to two songs: “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” and “Another One Bites the Dust.” During the study, Snowball was seen doing new dance moves that weren’t taught to him by his owner. In fact, his owner had never trained him to dance.

The researchers were delighted to realize that the bird was coming up with his own distinct moves. They discovered the bird had 14 specific dance movements, and he used them in different ways each time he heard the songs.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Why is Snowball compelled to dance? The scientists suspect it is a way to socially bond with his caregiver. No other animals have been observed dancing spontaneously to music; just parrots like Snowball. This might be because parrots and humans both experience complex vocal learning, have the ability to learn complex sequences of actions, and also form long-term social bonds. It shows real creativity, which is a distinctly human trait.

And a parrot trait as well, it seems.