Why Do Birds Dance to Music? Several Facts You Might Not Know


Written by

Clinton Atkins



George Dukes

why do birds dance to music

Dancing has always been considered an exclusively human activity. Recently, studies on other mammals and non-mammalian species, such as birds, have revealed that this movement can also be observed in animals.

In 2019, a new study by Dr. Aniruddh Patel and his colleagues revealed that parrots could dance in response to music. So, why do birds dance to music?

There are different theories to explain this, such as a biological or natural tendency of some birds, or it could be a result of human interaction or training. We will discuss these reasons further in this article.

Reasons Why Birds Dance

1. As a biological or natural tendency.


Humans have an innate capacity to do movement in synchrony with musical beats. Do birds like music as much as we do?

Studies on animals have revealed that certain species of animals, such as birds, are capable of musical beat perception and synchronization (BPS). It means they can respond to certain musical beats and tempos and align their movement based on the tempo, which is dancing in response to music.

According to a study by Dr. Patel, this may be because of a route in the brain of birds that links the auditory system and the parts of the brain responsible for movement. Their hypothesis states that only animals that are capable of vocal learning, such as parrots, dolphins, and seals, can display this kind of coordination of movement to a musical beat.

Thus, it is not surprising that some birds have a sense of rhythm because evidence shows that it may be part of their brain circuit.

2. Imitation or mimicry.


The team of Dr. Patel investigated their hypothesis on why birds such as parrots dance to music by observing a sulfur-crested cockatoo named Snowball. This cockatoo dances to pop songs, and videos of him on YouTube have gone viral.

One of their explanations for the bird’s behavior is that it could be merely imitating the movements of its human companion since it is common for parrots to mirror verbal and non-verbal actions from humans.

3. Social Bonding.

Another reason put forth by the team of Dr. Patel in their 2nd study published in 2019, which was also centered on Snowball the dancing cockatoo, is that he was dancing as a way of social interaction with his human caregivers.

Because of the bonds formed between him and his caretaker, who liked to dance with him, he may have performed as a way of pleasing or just simply relating to his human companion.

4. Ability to learn or train.


Parrots may have developed the ability to learn complicated sequences of actions. In other words, the birds can make different kinds of dance movements for one song and not just one repetitive movement.

Many parrot owners have also recorded this variety of dance moves and uploaded them on the internet, such as a bird dancing to cellphone ringtones.

Is this the result of training, or is it because of the tendency of vocal-learning species to adapt human movements when music is played? It could be both, but training has less to do with it and more because of the way parrots are made. 

What Kind of Music Do Birds Hate?

Birds like different kinds of music. As with humans, each bird has their preference, so this question is a bit tricky to answer.

What birds hate could also be the music their owners hate, but this is not a hard rule. Some birds like calm music, and some birds like rock music.

One study revealed that parrots tend to choose their favorite tunes or the songs that birds like to dance to most of the time when allowed to choose songs. Parrots were shown to have musical preferences and dislikes in one particular study.

As a generalization, they determined that most of the birds they studied hated electronic dance music.

Tips for Training a Bird to Dance

  • Show your bird some dancing videos or expose him to music.

Parakeets like music. If you have one or any parrot species in your home, this could encourage his innate capacity to do rhythmic movements. There are many dancing bird videos on Reddit and YouTube. You can find some clips on these sites for your bird.

  • Choose an upbeat song or experiment with different kinds of songs and observe which ones your bird will respond to.

Parrots like music and can dance to them. Lovebirds like music that is calming. There is no particular explanation why but some birds have music preferences. For example Snowball, the cockatoo, preferred pop music by the Backstreet boys.

  • Dance with your bird.

Dancing together will allow him to learn and perhaps copy his dance moves. Birds can bob their heads to the music because of their innate ability to respond to the tempo and rhythm of the song.

  • When your parrots dance to music, reward them with a treat or any positive reinforcement.

With some treats during dancing, you can encourage the birds to dance when they hear their favorite music and to learn more dance moves.

What kind of music do parrots like?

Parrots are picky birds, according to some animal studies. The choice of music is different for all. Some like pop music, and others birds like loud music.


It is astonishing that some birds are so clever they can dance to music. Studies have proven that parrots are innately capable of this, and they even have a range of preferences for music genres, just like us.

The reasons why do birds dance to music are grounded in many scientific studies and knowing this information is mind-blowing. It is good to know that both humans and birds share the love of dancing. If you found this article interesting, share this with your bird-loving friends!

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