Adorable birds tap dance their way into the heart of a mate

Blue-capped cordon-bleu songbirds

While other bird species have been know to dance, blue-capped cordon-bleu songbirds (Uraeginthus cyanocephalus) are one of the few species where both males (left) and females (right) perform song and dance courtship displays. 

Nao Ota

View the video

Blue-capped cordon-bleu songbirds (Uraeginthus cyanocephalus) know how to bust a move like Fred Astaire. The birds belt out some dulcet tones, stick some nesting material in their beak, bob up and down — and rhythmically tap their feet.

Researchers summarize the first evidence of such “tap dancing” in this socially monogamous species November 19 in Scientific Reports. High-speed video revealed the behavior, which had gone unnoticed in previous studies.

And every Fred needs a Ginger: While males typically sing showier songs, both sexes displayed equally elaborate dance moves and upped the ante when on the same perch as a partner. Sounds and vibrations from such dance duets may serve as a form of flirtatious communication, the researchers suspect.

Watch male and female blue-capped cordon-bleu songbirds perform courtship routines first in real time and then in slow motion. 

Credit: Nao Ota

Helen Thompson

Helen Thompson is the associate digital editor. She has undergraduate degrees in biology and English from Trinity University and a master’s degree in science writing from Johns Hopkins University.

More Stories from Science News on Animals

From the Nature Index

Paid Content