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Drumming cockatoos have signature beats
Palm cockatoo
Palm cockatoos are known for their shyness and elusiveness.

Researchers analyse courting behaviour for the first time

The animal kingdom isn’t short of musical animals; whales and birds can often be heard belting out a song. But new research of the palm cockatoo’s ability to drum has found that not only can it thrash out a tune - but it can also keep a beat.

It has long been known that palm cockatoos bang sticks on tree trunks to impress the opposite sex. But in a new study, researchers at Australian National University (ANU) secured video footage of this behaviour and were able to analyse it for the first time.

The researchers gained the footage slowly over seven years by stalking the birds though the rainforest. They observed the parrots fashion sticks from branches, grip them with their feet and bang them on trunks and tree hollows.

“The icing on the cake is that the taps are almost perfectly spaced over very long sequences, just like a human drummer would do when holding a regular beat,” said Professor Rob Heinsohn, from the ANU Fenner School of Environment and Study.

The footage also revealed that each of the 18 male palm cockatoos, known to be shy and elusive, had their own style or signature drum beat.

"Some males were consistently fast, some were slow, while others loved a little flourish at the beginning,” Professor Heinsohn continued. “Such individual styles might allow other birds to recognise who it is drumming from a long way away."

Iconic to Cape York Peninsular in North Queensland, Palm cockatoos are known for their shyness and elusiveness. The drumming is part of the series courtship ritual that involves a lot of calls and movements to attract a mate.

The research, published in Science Advances, is part of a wider study on the conservation needs of palm cockatoos on Cape York Peninsula, where they suffer from low breeding success and loss of habitat due to mining.

Image (C) Dick Daniels/ Wikimedia Commons

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Classroom pets on the decline

News Story 1
 New research has found there are fewer pets in UK classrooms than in previous generations - despite 88 per cent of parents believing it significantly helps a child’s social skills and development.

More than half of the parents surveyed by Pets at Home (51 per cent) had a class pet as a child, compared to 46 per cent of children today.

The survey also found that non-traditional animals such as chickens, tadpoles, caterpillars and stick insects are becoming increasingly popular alternatives as classroom pets.  

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BVA survey seeks views on surveillance

Vets who use veterinary scanning surveillance networks are being asked to complete a survey to help ensure the networks are fully able to protect animals in the UK.

‘Surveillance use, understanding and engagement across the veterinary profession’ is the first of a series of surveillance surveys that will also include localised surveys for Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Drafted by members of BVA’s Surveillance Working Group, it will run until Friday, 31 August 2017. Data collected will inform BVA’s policy position ensuring it is representative of disease surveillance across the UK.