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Snowball the dancing cockatoo

Jim Dixon 01 May 09 - 03:20 PM
VirginiaTam 01 May 09 - 03:36 PM
Jim Dixon 01 May 09 - 04:09 PM
VirginiaTam 01 May 09 - 04:30 PM
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Subject: Snowball the dancing cockatoo
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 01 May 09 - 03:20 PM

"Irena Schulz filmed her sulphur-crested cockatoo, Snowball, dancing to the Backstreet Boys. It was a YouTube sensation. A couple of neuroscientists, including John Iversen of the Neurosciences Institute, saw the video and decided to look into it."

National Public Radio report:
This Cockatoo Can Shake His Tail Feathers

Two famous parrots and a bevy of YouTube videos have now convinced scientists that people aren't the only ones who can groove to a musical beat.

Dancing has long been thought to be uniquely human. Toddlers will spontaneously bob along with music, but you never see dogs or cats listen to a tune and tap their tails in time.

So a couple of years ago, a neurobiologist named Aniruddh Patel was astonished when someone e-mailed him a link to a YouTube video of a sulfur-crested cockatoo named Snowball dancing to the Backstreet Boys.

"I said, you know, this is much more than just a cute pet trick. This is potentially scientifically very important," recalls Patel, who studies music and the brain at the Neurosciences Institute in San Diego.

He got in touch with Snowball's owner, Irena Schulz. She runs Bird Lovers Only Rescue Service, a bird shelter in Indiana.

Schulz recalls that when Snowball's previous owner had dropped him off, he "also explained that Snowball dances." And along with Snowball, the man had brought the bird's favorite music.

He put on the Backstreet Boys and Snowball started to get down like there was no tomorrow, says Schulz.

"It was incredible the way that he would lift his legs way up in the air, like a cancan girl," she remembers.

Snowball swayed, he kicked, he bobbed his head — all in time with the music. Schulz put a video of the bird dancing online and it went viral, with millions of people watching him on YouTube.

"I felt like OK, this could be real," says Patel. But he wanted to test Snowball to see if the bird could really adjust his movements to match a different beat. After all, maybe Snowball just did a trained routine at one tempo that just happened to go with certain songs.

Patel's group took Snowball's beloved Backstreet Boys song and manipulated it with a computer. They slowed it down and sped it up. They sent the modified music to Schulz, who played it for Snowball and videotaped his reactions.

The videos show that yes, the bird will match his moves to the beat. For the slower versions, he sways his entire body like a pendulum. But, Schulz says, when the music gets faster, "he understands to adjust his movements. If he's going to sway, don't sway as much, just bob your head."

And when the beat gets really fast and he doesn't have time to bring his leg all the way up and down, she says, "he'll keep his foot lifted up and he'll just, like, do his wave, he'll wave his foot."

[There's more.]

And here's the YouTube video: Snowball - Our Dancing Cockatoo


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Subject: RE: Snowball the dancing cockatoo
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 01 May 09 - 03:36 PM

Oops! There is already a thread in the BS section about this titled Morris dancing parrot or something like.


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Subject: RE: Snowball the dancing cockatoo
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 01 May 09 - 04:09 PM

HONEST, I DID search diligently for such a thread, but it never occurred to me people would confuse a cockatoo with a parrot.

I HATE IT when people get "creative" when naming a thread. That only makes the thread harder to find. I deliberately chose the most OBVIOUS and LITERAL title I could think of. Oh, well; this will be a good test. The other thread only has 5 messages so far.

Anyway, I figure this is a music related topic, not BS.


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Subject: RE: Snowball the dancing cockatoo
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 01 May 09 - 04:30 PM

It's not a big deal is it?

The other one is one of those add your caption threads and not informational, so I think yours is ok.


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