For many, music is as necessary part of the day as the air is to breathe. It has many intended effects but is usually sought after for a calming effect. Much has been written on the quality of music for pets. But birds especially seem to take to it with a similar zest that humans do. And although the intents and purposes of such bird attraction to music can be reflected by birdsong for pairing and communication, it’s evident that birds do respond to music, perhaps appreciably. If you, as a bird owner, or as a backyard bird enthusiast, find that your birds are positively responding to music, then this article is definitely for you.
In a recent study, two parrots were given access to designed selectable jukeboxes allowing for the playback of songs. The purpose was to discover if a bird had a preference that they’d return to if given opportunities. For this study, the two parrots used touch screens to choose songs that they preferred. As a result, the birds chose their own favorites some 1,400 times between them within the span of a month. (After writing this information within a previous article, I received responses asking where such a jukebox might be available, hence the motivation to write this article.)
Some owners have Echo (and the cheaper Echo Dot), which are now called Alexa, from Amazon as a service device designed to do a variety of informational and enabled chores. Others have Google Home devices. Both Apple and Microsoft have AI assistants via software that have yet to be ported to a device like Alexa or Home, but they’re likely coming in the near future. Owners of birds with an ability to mimic human voices have found a few of these magnificent and intelligent birds developing a knack to use these devices. And stories are abounding. In fact, one parrot can call his owner, while others have ordered items from Amazon. One of the interesting uses of Alexa that some birds have accustomed to is the ability to playback music at their whim.
The nice thing about the newer and more versatile Alexa and Home devices are their ability to playback a requested track. If you already know your bird has a favorite song (or ten), then a set of simple training exercises could encourage your bird to “ask” Alexa or Home to playback their favorites by request. Of course, you’d have to subscribe to one of the music streaming services (Amazon Music, YouTube Music, Tidal, Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play, and Pandora Premium). But in time, your bird could possess the ability to musically entertain themselves by music for as long as they wish with what songs they seem to prefer. (For those concerned that their birds might order products, there are safeguards that can be accessed to prevent unauthorized purchases by your ornery loved one(s).)
With a little research and exploration, you should be able to find more than enough information and resources to set up a parrot-friendly music service that — with some training — could provide your bird with enjoyable music preferences for as long as he or she remains interested in the ability to select music. As technology advances, it’s probable that some enterprising entrepreneur might even create a specific unit just for this purpose. Rocco, the UK African Grey Parrot has famously learned how to use Alexa to his advantages. He’s ordered food items, a kettle, and light bulbs, among other things. But Rocco has also used Alexa to playback some of his favorite songs, especially those by the Foo Fighters, and Kings of Leon. Rocco likes his tunes fast and rockin’!
For backyard birders who prefer to cultivate a sustainable habitat for birds, experimentation and well-placed weather-proof Bluetooth speakers can provide a stream of soothing selections at low-sound levels. Of course, you wouldn’t want to disrupt neighbors with blaring “We Will Rock You”-like tunes. But calming classical music played very low might be a good thing. Experimentation is a key to success in this endeavor.