Cockatoos Learn Crafty New Trick

shocked man

( – Dumpster diving is a recreational activity for some people who are interested in finding cool things stores throw away. For instance, books with their covers ripped off or clothing that never sold are common finds. Some people have even been known to dive into a grocery store’s dumpster looking for canned goods. TLC’s “Extreme Cheapskates” documents the lives of some of those people.

Recently, scientists discovered it’s not just humans or other large animals foraging for trash in dumpsters and garbage bins.

Australian Ornithologist (bird expert) Richard Major noticed his pet cockatoo was opening his trash bin one day. The tiny bird was able to grab the lid with its beak, fling it open, and find edible garbage in the garbage can. The scientist thought it was pretty cool, so he teamed up with German researchers to find out how the bird learned the trick.

When they started in 2018, they found birds in three Sydney suburbs that were lifting trash lids to find food. Just a year later, birds in 44 suburbs were doing it. Major and his team found the birds in the southern suburbs learned how to do it first and it spread from there.

Max Planck Institute behavioral ecologist Barbara Klump, one of the scientists working with Major, discovered the birds opening the bins were more likely to be male birds and more social. She said it showed the cockatoos were more likely to learn the skill if they were “socially connected” because they had more “opportunities to observe and acquire” the new behavior and spread it. In the long run, this might be vital to their survival as the suburbs spread and the birds lose more of their natural habitat.

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