Brilliant dancers that Frostie and Snowball are, their performances may not be the most we can expect from cockatoos. As discussed in Becoming A Tiger, wild palm cockatoos (Probosciger aterrimus) of Queensland, Australia, love to perform. Males perch on top of snags (making sure everyone gets a good view), spread their wings, scream, and pirouette. At the same time they drum on the tree with a stick they hold in one foot. It is believed by many humans that this impresses female cockatoos, so perhaps male cockatoos believe it too. It impresses me.
Female palm cockatoos have also been known to do this. A journal article describes both parents in a cockatoo pair drumming like fiends on the day before their baby left the nest for the first time. (I believe this is the “Dance Party (Empty Nest) Mix.")
These cockatoos craft their own drumsticks, snapping off branches and trimming them to a suitable size and shape.
Some people collect abandoned cockatoo drumsticks. (This is the highest musical expertise I aspire to: creeping around under dead trees collecting bird discards. But I haven't been to Queensland, so even this ambition is thwarted.)
You can buy a palm cockatoo for a pet. Please don't.
In light of what palm cockatoos can do, it is my view that Snowball should be offered a drum set. Those who live with Snowball should be offered really good ear protection.
As for wild palm cockatoos, it is the usual dilemma with out-of-the-way cultures. One doesn't want to short-circuit their timeless artistic tradition by leaving corrupting tradegoods lying around the forests of Queensland. But shouldn't artists have their choice of tools? Shouldn't they be the ones to decide whether we offer them drum sets and xylophones? How about a simple tambourine? Would it be so bad to give a bird a tambourine?
In addition to singing, dancing, and drumming (and crafting drumsticks), palm cockatoos also have a call that sounds kind of like “Hello.”
If you get to go to Queensland, and you are walking through the forests of Cape York, and you hear a cockatoo calling “Hello...” do not think of it as being short for “Hello, wouldn't I make an adorable prisoner?” Think of it as being short for, “Hello, do you have a delivery for me from Percussion Mart?”