Palm cockatoos beat drum like Ringo Starr

Play icon

Palm cockatoos beat drum like Ringo Starr


  Last updated August 16, 2017 at 12:13 pm


New research from The Australian National University (ANU) shows when it comes to percussion, the palm cockatoo is the animal kingdom’s match for Ringo Starr or Phil Collins.

Professor Rob Heinsohn said while songbirds and whales can belt out a musical tune, few species recognise a beat. But the shy and elusive palm cockatoo, iconic to Cape York Peninsula in far North Queensland, plays the drums and crafts the sticks.

“The large smoky-grey parrots fashion thick sticks from branches, grip them with their feet and bang them on trunks and tree hollows, all the while displaying to females,” said Professor Heinsohn, from the ANU Fenner School of Environment and Society.

“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.”

Professor Heinsohn said the palm cockatoo’s ability to drum has been known for a long time but this is the first research to secure the footage to analyse it.

Find out more about the musical prowess of the palm cockatoo on the Science at ANU website.

Published By