Cockatoos nearly beat Australians in tech fight over garbage (7 pics + 1 video)

Category: Animals, PEGI 0+
27 February 2023

Garbage left by people attracts a variety of animals − for them it is a source of food. Somewhere garbage attracts dogs, cats, raccoons, bears, and in Australia garbage attracts cockatoos. Birds learning open garbage cans, throw garbage around the streets, and people try to resist this.

Bricks, Chinese chopsticks, wire, shoes, chains - are just some of the tools Sydney residents use to prevent large yellow-crested cockatoos (lat. Cacatua galerita) from entering trash bin. The goal is to prevent the birds from lifting the lid container, but allow the lid to open freely to city services could freely take away its contents.

The city authorities joined the fight against littering birds, attracted biologists to observe the cockatoo and study the problem.

As soon as cockatoos learn to open the lids of garbage cans, people change their defense strategy and start using something new, for example, things like bricks or stones to hold down the lids. After a while, the cockatoos figure out how to bypass the defenses, and the cycle continues.

Researchers are monitoring the situation closely to see what birds and people will do next. With the right approach cockatoos may fly past and continue their search for food elsewhere.

In the course of the study, Barbara Klump, a behavioral ecologist from Max Planck Institute for Animal Behavior in Radolfzell, Germany and its colleagues inspected more than 3,000 garbage cans in four suburbs Sydney, where cockatoos infiltrate the garbage. Observations and online surveys showed that people living on the same street mostly use the same the same methods of protecting tanks and scaring away birds.

According to Klump, tricks such as trying to scare parrots with rubber kites, very quickly stopped working. Also not access is blocked by heavy objects (bricks, stones, etc.): cockatoo use brute force to push them away. sticks inserted into lock, even the chains are deftly pulled out and thrown out by birds. Hanging a load from the front of the lid or wedge-in objects, such as running shoes and large sticks works better. However, already identified cases of birds bypassing this level of protection. Parrots learn quickly.

Not all methods are equally good for all people. Some people, for example, there may not be time to carefully secure the load to trash can lid. In addition, children cannot lift heavy bricks to open and close the tank. Cannot use sophisticated methods of protection and persons with disabilities.

However, as the researchers noted, cockatoos prefer not mess with those protection methods that require too much time to overcome. Bricks, for example, are easy to push off the garbage container, but breaking sticks stuck in the rear handle can take a lot of time. Many birds, but not all, choose to leave it's business and fly further.

Researchers hope to develop optimal protection method garbage cans that will simultaneously protect the garbage from the invasion of the cockatoo and will not hinder its removal by city services, as well as its removal by children and persons with disabilities.

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