Birds Tap Dance, But We Can’t See It

Just amazing:
Tap dancing birds: the multimodal mutual courtship display of males and females in a socially monogamous songbird, Nature, 19 November 2015
Bird’s lightning ‘tap dance’ caught on camera, BBC, 19 November 2015

The dance is all the more remarkable, Prof Gahr explained, because of everything else the birds are doing during the display: they clutch a piece of nesting material in their beaks, tilt their heads upward, bob up and down and sing – all while keeping an eye on their partner. “It’s quite complicated, to do all that without falling from the perch – it’s very acrobatic,” he said.

Two things … They don’t just sing, they sing and dance at the same time. And they dance to make a sound, it’s musical. And both males and females do it. Wait, one more thing. That slowed-down singing is too creepy.

I wonder what else birds do that we’re not privy to. Do they sing at frequencies we can’t hear? Birds have something going on that we need to respect.

Here’s the trailer to Alfred Hitchcock’s 1963 film, The Birds. I always thought that the caged lovebirds were the impetus for the attack, the fact that they were caged.

5 thoughts on “Birds Tap Dance, But We Can’t See It

  1. Melinda

    This is so utterly cool, I can hardly stand it!!! In the first bit, when the male bird is tapping & singing, the female looks so nonplussed! I agree with you–research suggests birds are so much more intelligent and sentient than we imagine. And I really like your point about the trigger in “The Birds.”


    1. Bix Post author

      I never in my life imagined I would come to look upon birds this way. I’m facing it … they own the sky, and a lot more.

      Which has me wondering … how will they feel about having to share it, the sky, with drones? I’ve already seen a few videos where they attacked them. I read that there may be a million drones for sale this Christmas.


  2. Marj

    I’m appreciating how beautiful these birds are, their coloring is such that I wish I could see them in person to admire. Love this video and their courtship behavior. Am not going to think about all the destructive mishaps befalling our bird population. Not only glass building collision accidents, pesticide deaths, loss of habitat, and now as you say, Bix, drones. I hadn’t even thought about those. What madness!


    1. Bix Post author

      Marj, so, so true. Birds are so easy to ignore. People around me use Roundup on their lawns to make them pretty, or something. I can’t. I just can’t. They spray and I watch the robins and cardinals peck there for food and I cringe.


  3. Marj

    We could go on and on about Roundup! what a disaster it seems to everything on the planet. And back to birds, I forgot to mention wind turbines. Although I did read recently they’re starting to redesign them (in California) to make them less of a hazard to birds, so that’s encouraging.



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