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Parrots have personal musical preferences

Last Updated: Tuesday, December 25, 2012 - 10:02

London: Parrots are known as great mimics, but now scientists have discovered that the creatures also have varied musical tastes — and an intense dislike of dance tunes.

Researchers monitored the listening preferences of a pair of African grey parrots (Psittacus erithacus) and found that both birds enjoyed rock and folk music and “danced” along, by bobbing their heads and legs and even “sang along,” by squawking, the Telegraph reported.

Dr Franck Peron, from the University of Lincoln said that there is no trend for parrots even if they are in the same place hearing the same things as they don’t prefer the same music.

The study initially involved three parrots, Leo, Zoe and Shango, being played a series of “rhythmic” songs by U2, UB40 and Joan Baez.

They all appeared to enjoy the songs and were observed dancing and singing along, with excited calls and human words.

They also listened to several cantatas by Bach, which appeared to relax the parrots, encouraging them to rest and preen themselves.

The two male parrots - Leo and Shango - then took part in a second study in which a touch-screen monitor was left in their cage, with two large buttons, which they could press with their beaks, which activated a 15-second segment of two different songs: ‘I Don’t Feel like Dancing,’ by the pop group Scissor Sisters, or the more soothing ‘La Petite Fille de la Mer’ by Vangelis.

The touch screen was in their cages for a month and the parrots were allowed to select the music whenever they wished. Although the birds liked listening both songs, clear preference emerged — with Leo choosing the Scissor Sisters and Shango opting for Vangelis.

Between them, the birds played the songs more than 1,400 times.

The birds’ dislike of dance music — by acts like the Prodigy and the Chemical Brothers — was not discovered under the test conditions. It was discovered when the scientists were listening to music of their own choice within earshot of the birds.

The findings will be published in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science.


First Published: Tuesday, December 25, 2012 - 10:02
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