Little Drummer Bird

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Some animals can use branches or other objects in nature as tools for foraging and survival.

But Australia’s palm cockatoos are the only species – apart from humans – that use tools to create rhythmic sounds.

Now, a new study found that the male birds are able to create their own distinct “drumsticks” to woo potential mates, New Scientist reported.

Scientists have noticed that male palm cockatoos pick up or snap off a branch and whittle it down with their beaks. They then hold branches or seed pods with their feet and tap against a tree to show off their drumming displays.

After creating an enticing rhythm for a female, they then throw their tool.

For their paper, a research team went to the Kutini-Payamu National Park in Queensland to observe drumming cockatoos and collect their discarded tools. They gathered a total of 256 drumsticks from 70 trees.

The team then studied the sticks made by 12 males and discovered that each bird had individual preferences for their drumsticks.

“They were very consistent in their design,” said lead author Robert Heinsohn. “Some like them long and skinny, or long and fat, or short and skinny, and everything in between.”

The findings also showed that neighboring avians would not copy each other, suggesting that they might have learned to make their drumsticks from their fathers.

“This shows that each bird is an individual that has its own independent thoughts,” noted co-author Christina Zdenek. “The level of cognition to make these decisions and develop these habits shows a high degree of intelligence.”

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