Scientists discover birdie tap dance that's invisible to the naked eye

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

Scientists discover budgies 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.

Your Comments

That is so amazing!
That's so cute I wish I could do that
Brilliant & unexpected
5/5. GREAT!
This is incredible!
Awesome! You would never guess it was a bird!
Combination of whistle, cockadoodledoo and Irish dance :)
That is amazing! I had to watch it twice!
Esme 6
Soooooo awsome
It was a funny thing to watch. I really like the birds. I think they are really pretty.
OMG THIS IS SO AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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!
cool birds LOL Dancing, prancing and singing
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