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why do parrots dance to music?

Do Parrots Really Dance To Music? (Genres Parrots Like + Hate)

(Last Updated On: May 28, 2023)

Parrots have advanced cognitive abilities, so they dance to music for fun. They like dancing to classical, pop, rock, and folk music. However, most parrots dislike or hate dubstep and electronic music.

The same part of their brain that allows parrots to mimic human speech and sounds (like doorbells and microwave ovens) enables them to understand the rhythm and beat of the music.

According to Current Biology, parrots’ brains can process music, preferring some genres over others. Professor Aniruddh Patel found that parrots spontaneously moved when their favorite songs were played.

Dogs, cats, monkeys, chickens, and other animals can be taught to dance. However, they don’t do this independently, so trainers must encourage certain behaviors with a reward system.

What makes parrots different is they dance by watching humans or act entirely unprompted. Also, the parrots felt and reacted positively and negatively to certain songs.

Why Do Parrots Dance to Music?

In the above study, Dr. Patel postulates that there’s a link between the following:

  • A parrot’s ability to dance.
  • The way the brain works regarding vocal communication.

Parrots communicate by mimicking sounds they find fun. According to PLOS ONE, parrots can use specific sounds to call out to other flock members and their bonded partners.

A region of their genome sequence regulates brain development. This region is similar to ours, which allowed humans to evolve with advanced cognitive abilities.

Parrots are smarter than most other birds (although corvids like ravens are clever) because they evolved the region in their genome sequence, enabling them to communicate through sounds.

This evolved genome sequence created a link between the part of the brain responsible for auditory sensations and physical movement.

why do parrots bob their heads to music?

Why Do Parrots Bob Their Heads To Music?

The genome sequence link lets parrots hear music and bob their heads to the beat in perfect synchronization. It’s a natural response that parrots have that other birds lack.

A team at Harvard University analyzed over 3,000 videos of animals (elephants, dolphins, and songbirds) dancing to music. What did these animals have in common?

They were all vocal learners, mostly communicating through sounds, and could mimic movement.

Why Do Parrots Love Music?

Complex cognitive abilities mean the brain can experience the world beyond primitive instincts. Humans have advanced neurological pathways and can perform actions extending beyond survival.

It’s theorized that most animals can’t dance because there was no evolutionary requirement for their brains to develop the same neurological pathways that allow humans to dance.

It would take too much unnecessary energy, so most animals’ brains lack the capacity for creativity.

Do parrots love music because they have well-developed and creative minds? Research by Dr. Patel posited 3 theories that supported the need for creativity in parrots:

Better Understanding of Bodies

Is parrot dancing a consequence of imitating human dance moves? If so, parrots can:

  • See a being with a different body structure than their own.
  • Map out the motor pattern.
  • Replicate the movement with their own body.

It shows that parrots have sufficient cognitive ability to associate human body parts with their own. The byproduct of creativity is the ability to recognize and relate movement to the human body.


Another theory was based on the fact that parrots don’t dance due to physical necessity. So, parrots must possess creativity similar to humans.

Most animals exhibit creative behaviors to get food or a mate. Parrots dance to music unprompted and without expecting something in return. So, parrots dance because they find it fun and creative.


In this same study, a Sulphur-crested Eleanora cockatoo was analyzed. The cockatoo would only move its head up and down once its owner learned it could dance.

After a while, the parrot (named Snowball) developed 14 dance moves and 2 combinations.

There was a period when Snowball would experiment with different combinations of moves, so it would focus less on being synchronized and more on what it could do with its body.

Once it got over its experimental phase, Snowball could keep rhythm. This form of self-expression and experimentation is only possible in creative animals.

Is Dancing in a Parrot’s Nature?

Most parrots learn to dance by watching their owners. Can parrots that have never seen someone dance bob their heads to the sound of music? As it turns out, parrots are natural-born dancers.

Adena Schachner of Harvard University studied an African grey parrot named Alex. The parrot began bobbing his head to the beat when music was played.

During the study, the team also found that the 2 parrots in the experiment (Alex and Snowball) didn’t automatically respond to music. Instead, they danced only when they wanted to, indicating that parrots danced to music for entertainment.

Best Music To Play for Parrots

Playing any song won’t be enough to get a parrot to dance. A scientific study by Dr. Franck Péron on 3 parrots indicated that parrots enjoy the following genres of music:

  • Pop music.
  • Rock music.
  • Folk music.
  • Classical music.

The classical music relaxed the parrots and encouraged them to preen and groom themselves.

Meanwhile, pop, folk, and rock music made them dance and sing along, which they did by squawking and saying human words they had learned to say.

What Music Do Parrots Hate?

Researchers learned that parrots have negative opinions about music. The genre of music they disliked the most was high-tempo electronic dance music.

Do Parrots Like Certain Songs?

The parrots showed favorable responses to the same genres of music. However, parrots also displayed different preferences regarding the songs played.

When in the same room, hearing the same song, 1 or 2 parrots wouldn’t dance or sing as enthusiastically as the others. This indicated that parrots have personalized tastes in music.

How To Teach A Parrot To Dance

Parrots naturally love music and have fun dancing to it. Dancing is good exercise and an effective stress reliever that benefits highly-strung pet birds.

While parrots may dance on their own, they can always benefit from one-on-one lessons. Taking the time to teach a parrot to dance will yield faster and better results.

Different Music

Parrots have preferences in music. So, the first song you play might not be the one that makes a parrot dance. So, keep experimenting with different tunes and genres until the parrot finds something it likes.

Dance Together

Parrots are social animals that like to share experiences with bonded humans. Studies have found that parrots dance for longer when humans or other parrots join in with them.

Simple Moves

Overcomplicated moves may confuse a parrot, just like they would a human who’s new to dancing. The parrot will eventually learn more complex moves later.

do birds have a sense of rhythm?


Parrots respond well to vocal encouragement when dancing.

Short Lessons

Parrots dance in short intervals and only when they’re in the right mood. So, keep the lessons short so you don’t tire them out or cause them to grow bored.


Do you have a single parrot or several parrots that can’t imitate your dance moves? Then, show them videos of other parrots dancing to demonstrate what to do.

Reward System

Parrots are food-focused animals, so offer them favored snacks as a reward for participation and success.


Select an area of the house where the parrot is most relaxed. Remember, dancing must be fun for parrots, so always ensure that lessons occur in a stress-free room.

Start Gradually

Some parrots don’t take to music immediately. At first, sing a song to the parrot. Then, play the song around the house where the parrot can hear it.

Right Music

Parrots prefer songs with soft vocals. Even if you play soothing or upbeat songs (the kinds parrots usually prefer), you might observe better results if the song has vocals.

Why Aren’t My Parrots Dancing?

If a parrot refuses to dance despite your best efforts, it’s likely for these reasons:

Lacking Energy

If a parrot isn’t getting the right nutrition, it may lack the energy to dance.

If so, ensure the parrot’s diet includes sufficient iron, magnesium, and vitamins B6 (pyridoxine) and B12 (cobalamin) to assist with energy metabolism.

Physical Limitations

If a parrot is sick, injured, or gravid (egg-carrying), it may be unable or unwilling to move. To carry out a non-essential task, a parrot needs to be in an upbeat and happy mood.


Not all parrots like the same music, while others have little interest in dancing. The parrot likely has other interests, like playing with toys, learning new tricks, or vocalizing frequently.

Check for signs of distress because the parrot might not like the genre, singer, or volume.