cockatoos in a “race for innovation” with their human neighbors

cockatoos in a “race for innovation” with their human neighbors

cockatoos in a “race for innovation” with their human neighbors

published Tuesday, September 13, 2022 at 5:03 pm

Scientists observed that the sulfur-crested cockatoos in Australia appear to have entered a “race to innovate” with humans on garbage in roadside bins.

These white birds, which can reach the size of a human arm, first surprised researchers by devising an ingenious technique for opening the lids of household garbage cans in Sydney and other areas.

According to a new study published Monday in Current Biology, birds have taken a step forward by outsmarting the growing defenses of overloaded humans, behaviors that could reveal a hitherto unexplored “race to innovation between species.”

Nestled between a forest and a beach lined by a wave-battered cliff, the quaint town of Stanwell Park, near Sydney, is at the forefront of this battle.

“If you don’t close the bin right after you throw out the trash, it will be in there,” said Ana Culic, 21, a manager of a city bar. “Cockatoos everywhere. Like garbage everywhere in front of our house.”

His family tried to scare the cockatoos with owl statues, without success.

They then tried to place bricks on the lids of the garbage cans, but the cockatoos learned how to remove them.

Eventually, they punched a lock in the garbage can.

Frequent observations reveal that only one cockatoo manages to open a garbage can thanks to a complex technique.

Scientists found in a previous study that knowledge of the technique spread as other birds watched, creating local “traditions”.

Their new research shows that humans, frustrated to see their trash littered on the street, have learned to adapt.

When humans reacted, “I was really amazed at how many different methods people came up with,” said the study’s lead author, Barbara Klump, a behavioral scientist at the Max Plank Institute in Germany.

As cockatoos learn to evade some of the protections of humans, the two species appear to be engaged in “gradual progression and reiteration,” the researcher said.

Cockatoos “have some problem-solving skills and we know they’re super curious and love to explore,” Klump said. “But I don’t think protecting the bins will make cockatoos smarter per se.”

djw / arb / skc / lb / kma / mlb / lch

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.