Video: Zebra Finches Play Electric Guitars

Installation for The Curve, Barbican Art Gallery, 2010. Céleste Boursier-Mougenot. Photo©AFP/Getty Images
From Here to Ear installation for The Curve, Barbican Art Gallery, 2010. Courtesy of the Artist and Paula Cooper Gallery, New York. Photo: Lyndon Douglas.

Video: Zebra Finches Play Electric Guitars

Watch these birds play human instruments at Peabody Essex Museum.

By Todd Petty
Published: 01/22/2014

Birds are known for their song, but you’ve probably never heard them make music like this before. A flock of zebra finches is jamming on guitars at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts, where a new contemporary art exhibit opened on January 18th.

Created by French artist Céleste BoursierMougenot, the exhibit, titled From here to ear, is essentially a walk-in aviary featuring an assortment of electric guitars and Zebra finches — 70 in all. The birds flit and flutter from one tuned guitar to the next, sometimes stopping to rest or otherwise dancing along the instruments’ strings.

With wooden necks that make for easy perches, the plugged-in guitars are placed horizontally atop a row of stands, creating a surprising sound that is both dynamic and engaging. It’s not Jimi Hendrix, but it is fun to listen to.

The museum makes a point of noting that the birds take breaks between sets, resting in hanging nest “condos,” and maintain a healthy circadian rhythm with the help of special UV lights. A staff member is on hand at all times to answer questions and ensure animal safety. Only 20 visitors are allowed in the exhibit at one time.

The finches, sourced from a specialty animal casting company whose professional handlers and trainers facilitate the installation and removal of the birds, were raised in captivity and will return to their owners after the exhibit closes on April 13.

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Todd Petty

Todd Petty is a reporter at Audubon Magazine.

Type: Author | From: Audubon Magazine