Posted in biology

Parrots got rhythm

By now I’m sure everyone’s reported on the recent research done on large birds – namely parrots – and their ability to follow a beat. I heard the story originally on NPR.

One thing I found interesting about the findings is that the only other critters they found with a rhythm are those animals that can also mimick sounds. That included elephants in one study.

The other thing is that we as humans are always trying to determine exactly what makes us so special. It used to be we were the only ones who used tools, until Jane Goodall and others squashed that; then we were the only ones who play, but that for the most part has also been quelled (*a few people still don’t believe that a dog chasing a ball is play, but don’t get me started); now dance and rhythm has been identified in other animals. We are quickly running out of activities that make us unique from the rest of the animal kingdom. We are definitely the most versatile, I think we just need to stop hogging all the glory.

Check out Snowball’s videos to see the hip bird in action. The commercial from Sweden is especially funny.



Beth Kelley is an applied & digital anthropologist with an overall interest in how people engage with and are impacted by their environments and vice versa. This has manifested itself in many ways, by looking at creativity, playful spaces, built environments, and environmental enrichment, sustainability, design research, and integrative and collaborative models of learning such as through play and hands-on learning.