Drumming Up Love

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Did you know that several species of cockatoos are black instead of white in color? Did you know that the Black Palm Cockatoos, Probosciger aterrimus, use tools — tree limbs that they use to beat on their chosen nest cavity — to attract a mate? Below the fold is a clip of the courtship of a pair of Black Palm Cockatoos from the Nature program Parrots in the Land of Oz, which airs on PBS on 19, 20 and 21 October [1:56]


About GrrlScientist

grrlscientist is the pseudonym of an evolutionary biologist and ornithologist who writes about evolution, ethology, and ecology, especially in birds. After earning a degree in microbiology (thesis focus: virology) and working at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, she earned her PhD in zoology from the University of Washington in Seattle, where she studied the molecular correlates of testosterone and behaviour in white-crowned sparrows. She then worked a Chapman Postdoctoral Fellow at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, where she studied the speciation and distribution of lories and other parrots throughout the South Pacific Islands. A discarded scientist, she returned to her roots: writing. Formerly hosted by The Guardian (UK), she now writes about science for Forbes and for the non-profit think tank, the Evolution Institute and she writes podcasts for BirdNote Radio. An avid lifelong birder and aviculturist, she lives with a flock of songbirds and parrots somewhere in Germany.
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0 Responses to Drumming Up Love

  1. RM says:

    It’s the Tommy Lee of the Cockatoo world. Drumming to attract the ladies.
    I watched the show last night and recommend it. Of special interest to me were the cockatoos ripping open the grain storage to have a feed. I have watched smaller parrots? do the exact same thing in Argentina.

  2. Barn Owl says:

    Definitely one of the best _Nature_ episodes I’ve seen. I’ve read that many cockatoo species have larger forebrains, and more foliated cerebella, than do other birds, and the speculations of the researcher on the intelligence of Black Palm Cockatoos would fit with these comparative studies. It seems to me that we know so little about avian intelligence (and dismissively refer to bird-brains), perhaps because bird brains are in many ways quite different from ours. A friend who works on evolution of brain circuitry says that whereas the brains of mammals are built on an olfactory “chip”, those of birds are built on a visual “chip”.
    I loved the Little Corellas doing gymnastics on the powerlines. It was stunning to see the large flocks of parrots in the wild; I even have new appreciation for Budgerigars.