As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

The birdie dance: fancy footwork of courting birds revealed

To woo potential mates, the blue-capped cordon bleu performs a high-speed tap dance too fast for the human eye to see, new research has found

Blue-capped Cordon-bleu, Ngorongoro.jpgHumans buy flowers. Capuchins throw stones. Giant tortoises bellow. But the blue-capped cordon bleu, a small finch found in Africa, really knows how to win over a mate.

The three-inch-high omnivores perform energetic cabaret acts to woo their partners, rattling through routines that feature head-bobbing, singing and tap dance, and often all three at once.
The birds were known to sing and nod their heads to impress the opposite sex, but high speed video footage has now revealed that they spice up their displays with nifty footwork that adds percussion to their repertoire and sends vibrations racing down their perches.

Scientists at Hokkaido University filmed the birds as they tried their luck with cagemates, and found that both males and females turned to tap to seduce their targets. The steps have not been seen before because they are too fast for the naked eye to spot.

“Like humans, males and females of cordon-bleus are mutually choosy and both sexes need to show off,” said Masayo Soma who lead the research. “They show tap dancing throughout the courtship display, and they sometimes add songs to tap dancing.” Whether the steps and songs are coordinated is the focus of ongoing research.


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