In suburban residential areas of Sydney, Australia, wild parrots have started looking for food in garbage cans. These crafty sulfur-crested cockatoos foil all the tricks put in place by the inhabitants to prevent them from littering the street.
For several years now, residents of suburban Sydney, Australia have been battling a hell of a feathered boss: Sulfur-crested cockatoos, also known as sulfur-crested cockatoos, have begun stealing food thrown from the bins of the garbage. These conceited savages, as they are called in Australia, thus litter and turn the streets upside down. What annoys the residents.
These parrots are smart: they stand on the front of the basket, use their beak and paws to lift the lid, then move to the side to lift and open it. And they passed the trick …
A study by Barbara Klump, a behavioral ecologist at the Max Planck Institute for Animal Behavior in Germany, published in the journal Science in July 2021 he speaks “social learning” to designate the fact that cockatoos learn from each other by reproducing the behaviors of their own kind.
A race for innovation
Residents of affected neighborhoods have tried different schemes to prevent sulfur-crested cockatoos from continuing their misdeeds, reports a new scientific study, published in the journal Current biology September 12, 2022. The aim is to discourage the birds, but without preventing the semi-automatic arm of the garbage truck from emptying the waste into the bin.
A real race for innovation has begun between humans and parrots. The first idea? Put a rubber snake on the basket to scare the birds. Without success. The next idea? Place a heavy object on the lid, such as a brick or rock. At first it worked, so all the families put in a lot of effort. But a feathered thug figured out how to push the stone. And once a bird knows how to do it, everyone else imitates it …
A new strategy was therefore attempted: placing an object between the lid and the hinges, such as a pool paste, a stick or shoes, to prevent the cockatoos from tipping over. Bingo. This trick seems to keep birds in check. “The bricks seemed to work for a while, but the cockatoos have gotten too smart, one respondent reported in the study. The neighbors on the other side of the highway suggested putting on sticks instead. And it works. “
The inhabitants learn the techniques of their neighbors
Like cockatoos, humans also act by mimicry. Local residents exchanged tips to protect their bins, developing increasingly effective techniques. “People invent new methods of protection for themselves, but many of them learn them from their neighbors or people on their street, so they take inspiration from someone else”, Barbara Klump pointed out in a press release. According to the study published in Current biologyof the 172 participants from the 51 monitored suburbs (1,134 people from 401 suburbs in all) who said they protect their garbage cans from cockatoo attacks, 64% learned new ways of protecting from others.
According to the researchers, this fun litter war could be a taste of the increasingly frequent interactions between humans and wildlife.