(ORDO NEWS) — Many animals look to human garbage as a source of food, and now the Australian cockatoo has been added to the long list, which includes foxes, bears and gulls.
Residents of southern Sydney have entered into a protracted “arms race” with these resourceful birds: while people try to keep parrots out of their trash cans, birds are resorting to tricks to get to them.
Garbage is a valuable food source for many animal species. In different parts of the world, you can see polar bears, red foxes or large yellow-crested cockatoos ( Cacatua galerita ) climbing into garbage cans in search of scraps of meat, bread or discarded rolls.
Since the animals often litter and break the bins themselves, it’s natural that people don’t like it, but there’s little they can do about it.
This is precisely the problem faced by the inhabitants of southern Sydney, who share their habitat with large parrots armed with strong beaks, movable claws and well-developed brains.
Cockatoos love table scraps, especially pieces of bread. And as soon as one of the people throws a bag of garbage into the tank, all the cockatoos from the neighborhood gather nearby to get it.
By studying the behavior of cockatoos when opening garbage cans, the researchers found that different groups of parrots do this differently – in other words, it is a cultural trait that is passed from bird to bird through social learning.
Since the townspeople cannot simply put a padlock on the cistern (this will interfere with garbage collection), they put stones and bricks on the lids, tie them with ropes, block them with sticks, and even buy special locks from parrots. But the birds still bypass these tricks and get access to the desired waste.
Curiously, not only cockatoos learn from each other: neighbors down the street also peep ways to counter parrots, exchanging experiences. In other words, we have before us an example of a classic “arms race” between people and birds, and it is not at all clear yet who will win in the end.
Scientists believe that in the future, people will face even more such clashes with the ingenuity of wild animals. As human cities expand, new species will be forced to co-exist with humans in the same territory, and most likely our trash cans will cause more than one “arms race”.
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