In Australia, the Caucasus learned to open trash cans

In Australia, the Caucasus learned to open trash cans

Sulfur-crested cuckoos can now feed by opening the lids of trash cans in residential areas in Australia. Apparently, the birds are learning this trick from each other.

Sulfur-Crested Cactus (Kakadua Colerida) Intelligent and highly social birds are known to hunt grains and fruit crops. This is why in Australia they are considered harmful. Most recently, these birds have learned to take advantage of another food source that is “provided” by humans: litter bins. Richard Major of the Australian Museum Research Institute made his first observation a few years ago. Before his eyes, the animal opened the lid of a residential trash can with its crane and legs, turning it over, before moving to the side to access the buffet.

Amazed at the ingenuity, the researcher, along with his friend and colleague Lucy Uplin, in close collaboration with the Max Blanc Institute of Animal Behavior, closely examined this dietary behavior. Did this bird master his technique through social learning or genetics?

In an attempt to answer this question, the researchers appealed to the public. In an online survey conducted in 2018 and 2019, residents of Sydney and Wollongong areas were asked to document these behaviors in their neighborhoods.

Australian trash cans have a similar design across the country, and sulfur-crested cuckoos are common across the East Coast.“, Explains John Martin of the Daronga Defense Association who participated in this work.”The first thing we wanted to do was find out if cuckoos open trash cans everywhere“.

Cuckoos learn from each other

At the end of their investigation, the researchers received 338 reports of cactus trash opening Recorded in 44 suburbs. In 93% of cases, there were several cuckoos when opening. According to these reports, the first behavior was observed in three Sydney suburbs, first before spreading to neighboring neighborhoods and then to more remote areas, suggesting that this behavior was socially learned.

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Credit: Barbara Clump / Max Planck Company for Animal Behavior

The researchers identified several birds in three different areas. At Stanwell Park in NSW Wolongkong, 36 out of 114 birds tried to open litter bins, but Nine won. Most of these cuckoos Were menAccording to researchers, they are heavier and more dominant. Others waited quietly before enjoying the feast.

According to these reports, the initiation techniques appear to be slightly different from those of neighboring countries, further evidence that this behavior is not genetic in origin, but “Learned by observing others“, Concludes Barbara Klump, co-signing this work.

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About the Author: Cory Weinberg

Cory Weinberg covers the intersection of tech and cities. That means digging into how startups and big tech companies are trying to reshape real estate, transportation, urban planning, and travel. Previously, he reported on Bay Area housing and commercial real estate for the San Francisco Business Times. He received a "best young journalist" award from the National Association of Real Estate Editors.

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