Blue-capped Cordon-bleu (Uraeginthus cyanocephalus) taken in Ngorongoro Park, Tanzania
Photo by D. Gordon E. Robertson

Week in Geek: Boogying birds edition

This species of songbird has some smooth moves you can’t even see with your own eyes.

The blue-capped cordon-bleu is a type of finch native to East Africa. They are pretty tiny, only around three inches high, but it turns out they have quite the dynamic courtship ritual.

Scientists have known for a while that the birds have a mating dance of sorts involving bobbing and singing, but only recently did they discover that there’s a lot more to this dance than they realized. Researchers at Hokkaido University in Japan were curious about the source of the rhythmic sounds they heard while the finches were courting so they filmed the birds with high-speed video cameras. When they played the footage back and slowed time down, they were shocked to find that each bird was doing a tap dance that was completely invisible to the human eye at normal speed. The videos also revealed that the dances became more intense, the closer the birds were to each other.

Watch this video to see these amazing moves for yourself. I’m guessing even Fred Astaire would be impressed.

Here’s some more geek from the week:

Keep on geeking!

@Summer_Ash, In-house Astrophysicist

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Week in Geek: Boogying birds edition