Sydney: Cockatoos Find Out How To Open Trash Can Lids By Watching Others Do The Trick World News
Cockatoos in Sydney have learned to open trash cans – and the technique is catching on as others figure out how to do it by watching them, scientists say.
Australian Sulfur-capped cockatoos were first observed a few years ago by ornithologist Richard Major opening the lids of containers in search of food.
Impressed by their ingenuity, Mr. Major and the researchers in GermanyHe studied how many cockatoos had learned this trick.
The team documented the phenomenon in three suburbs of Sydney In early 2018 and found that it had spread to 44 suburbs by the end of 2019.
After analyzing videos of 160 of the clever birds lifting trash can lids and evaluating their geographic distribution, they determined that most birds learned by watching others.
It is a real masterpiece for the birds that have to grab a garbage can lid with their beaks and pry open.
Then they have to shuffle along the edge of the garbage can so far that the lid falls backwards – revealing edible treasures inside.
Major said the “fairly rapid spread” was not accidental but “began in southern suburbs and radiated outward”.
In other words, the birds had learned the trick by watching their fellows. And it actually started out like a popular dance
Scientists have documented other examples of social learning in birds, such as blue tits, which learned to pierce foil lids on milk bottles in Britain from the 1920s.
Lucy Aplin, cognitive ecologist at the Max Planck Institute for Animal Behavior in Germany and co-author of the study, said real-time observations of a new “cultural trend” that is spreading in the wild – or in this case, suburbs – are affecting the cockatoo gave researchers a special opportunity.
“This is a scientist’s dream,” she said.
On the day of garbage collection in the suburbs of Sydney in summer 2019, her colleague Barbara Klump filmed around 160 successful missions of the birds.
Most of them were men who tend to be taller than women and are likely to be dominant in social hierarchies as well.
Ms. Klump said, “This suggests that when you are socially connected, you have more opportunities to observe and acquire new behavior – and spread it too.”
Cockatoos are extremely gregarious birds that forage in small groups, rest in large groups, and are rarely seen alone in Sydney.
While many animals have declined with the expansion of Australian cities, these bold and flamboyant birds have generally thrived.