Parrots, known for their uncanny ability to mimic sounds, also have personal musical tastes. Some prefer the classical works of Mozart and Beethoven, while other prefer the musical styling of trendy pop stars like Justin Bieber or Madonna. However, scientists found that while individual parrots may have different preferences in music, all psittacine birds seem to absolutely despise dance music.
Scientists studied the listening preferences of two African grey parrots (Psittacus erithacus), a popular pet bird species, and found that while one parrot preferred soothing "middle of the road" music, the other bird liked more upbeat trendy pop music, according to The Telegraph.
Both parrots liked to listen to rock and folk music and "danced" to the tunes by bobbing their heads and legs. Apparently, the birds enjoyed these genres to such an extent that they even "sang along" by squawking.
However, neither of the birds appreciated electronic dance music, and listening to the genre left both parrots visibly distressed.
"The birds clearly showed preferences. One preferred the rhythmic and one preferred the classical," said Dr. Franck Péron of the University of Lincoln, according to The Telegraph.
"There is no trend for the birds. Even if they are in the same place hearing the same things, they do not prefer the same music," he explained.
Initially, researchers had three parrots in the study, Leo, Shango and Zoé, listen to a series of "rhythmic" songs by artists like U2, UB40 and Joan Baez. Researchers said that all of the birds appeared to enjoy the music and were all observed dancing and singing along, and making animated calls and human words.
When researchers played the birds Bach compositions, the birds appeared to relax by resting and preening themselves.
In a second experiment, the two male parrots, Léo and Shango, were left in a cage with a touch-screen monitor with two large buttons. The birds could press the buttons with their beaks, which would activate a 15-second sound clip of two different songs: either I Don't Feel like Dancing, by the pop group Scissor Sisters, or the more calming La Petite Fille de la Mer by Vangelis.
Researchers left the touch screens in the birds' cages for a month, and the parrots were allowed to select the music whenever they wanted. In the end, researchers found that while both parrots liked to listen to both songs, Leo clearly preferred listening to "Scissor Sisters" and Shango mostly chose to listen to "Vangelis".
Researchers said that between the two, the songs were played more than 1,400 times during the month.
The study found that the birds' dislike for Dance music by artists like Prodigy and the Chemical Brothers was not discovered until the test conditions. The study accidentally found while researchers were casually listening to their own music within earshot of the birds, the parrots started to scream in a "distressed, scared way".
"The electronic dance music was not appropriate for them. We had the radio on in the office and when it was a very fast beat, they started to scream; not in a friendly, communicative way but in a distressed, scared way. They seem to like pop music when there is a voice," Peron explained.
Researchers said that latest findings, soon to be published in the journal Applied Animal Behavior Sciences, are useful for people who have parrots as pets. They said pet owner could use touch-screen technology to provide their own "jukeboxes" for the enjoyment of their pet parrots.