Newly discovered dance repertoires in an Australian bird may be the most sophisticated in the avian world.
Many birds use song and dance to attract mates. But the superb lyrebird performs a series of four distinct dances set to the tune of four different songs, in a performance more elaborate than the most elite avian dancers, a team of Australian researchers reports today in the journal Current Biology.
The team filmed 12 adult male lyrebirds to tease apart the details of their song and dance.
“The first one sounds like a video arcade game,” said lead author Anastasia Dalziell of the Australian National University in Canberra. “When he’s doing that, he usually walks sideways, a little like the grapevine step in human dance moves.”
The dances each last only several seconds, and are difficult to identify as distinct sequences with the untrained eye and ear. But, in the video above, you will see the grapevine dance transition into a hopping dance, vaguely reminiscent of an avian version of Cotton-Eyed Joe. This leads into more grapevine and finally a calm flick of the tail feathers.