These little songbirds do more than just sing to attract a mate – they tap dance, too!

scientists discover birds tap dancing in courtship display

Tap-dancing birds!

Scientists have discovered that male and female cordon bleu birds, from eastern Africa, show off during courtship by performing a tap dance routine on their perch.

Incredibly, the finches’ foot-tapping antics are so speedy that they’re invisible to the naked eye – experts only noticed the fancy footwork while watching high-speed video, er, footage.

The team at Hokkaido University in Japan, partnered up eight male and eight female finches into pairs, before hitting the record button. Dr Masayo Soma, who headed up the research, said that capturing the footwork on film wasn’t as simple as she’d expected: “These birds are very choosy, and they only perform courtship displays to the individuals they like!”

This meant that the team ended up with over 200-hours worth of film to watch!

The tiny movements are so rapid, that a single step will last for just six frames of high-speed video – that’s 20 milliseconds or 0.02 seconds.

And dancing isn’t the only thing these birds use to impress a mate, they’ll also hold a piece of nesting material in their beaks, tilt their heads back, bob up and down and sing – all while tapping their feet. And if that doesn’t get you a date we don”t know what will!

So far, only red-cheeked and blue-capped cordon bleus are known to perform this birdie boogie – cool!

Check out the video below and see if you can spot the birds’ tiny hopping movements. Watch out, though – blink and you’ll miss them!

Watch the birdie boogie!

Video credit: Nao Ota, Manfred Gahr, Masayo Soma. (2015)

What do you make of this cool new behaviour? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

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COMMENTS

  • Taco elephant

    That is so cool and interesting who knew birds could dance?

  • Jess

    CUTE!!!!!!!!

  • Anna

    That's awesome! I have to agree with you, Nik21. I didn't know birds could tap-dance either.

  • Nik21

    That's so cool. I never knew that birds could do that

  • Henry

    wow! I saw birds singing but not dancing. Funny huh?

  • oliver deng

    I love all animals!!!!!!!!!

  • Juju

    omg i love birds and this is just too cool! I wish I had a birdy like that!

  • elephant person

    that is soo cool

  • bird nerd

    tapping birds? what????

  • Mabel Shen

    Well humans can't really sing while they're dancing but the birds are like jumping! Although who would jump when singing?!

  • Mabel Shen

    Bird singing is so cool but dancing is so weird!

  • Horse_foal

    Woah, that was a cool discovery. i wish my pet pigeons could tapdance..

  • Victoria66

    This is very cool, amazing, epic, fantastic, fabulous and awsome. i have never though this could happen!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • shellfish

    cool

  • GiraffeGirl

    That is so amazing!

  • SurpriseBerries101

    Thats so cute I wish I could do that

  • Panda_Boy

    Brilliant & unexpected

  • Freddie_Rackstraw

    5/5. GREAT!

  • iliketigers

    weird!

  • Glubglubby

    This is incredible!

  • Lydia-Kay

    Awesome! You would never guess it was a bird!

  • Ren

    Combination of whistle, cockadoodledoo and Irish dance :)

  • Emmalot

    That is amazing! I had to watch it twice!

  • Matilda-Quincie

    AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Esme 6

    Soooooo awsome

  • tessa27

    It was a funny thing to watch. I really like the birds. I think they are really pretty.

  • sdfhk

    totes

  • Meloetta

    OMG THIS IS SO AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Lauren_Xmas

    Wow! This is amazing and unbelievable! The first time I watched it (normal speed), I thought that he was just tapping both feet at the same time! That is an incredible video!

  • ailsaiona

    cool birds LOL Dancing, prancing and singing

Woodland Trust back to school

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