Off Topic Hobbies > Mechanical Engineering

:moon-faced menace" Cocatoos made "culture of looting" and Sydney'garbage bins.

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Cockatoo adults are teaching the younger birds how to overurn and extact food items frromgarbage bins, in culturally specif ways. Their methods seem to be handed down using methods specific to Sydney neighborhoods.

I think these are gorgeous, intelligent birds, and althouh they might be pests would still welcome such smart birds in "my" territory. (LOL)
 Regardless of the inconvenience.Would like to hear more stories from Australians dealing with this cute and appealing "moon faced menace".

Yet not all the cockatoos tackled the trash bins in the exact same way. In the far north of Sydney, for instance, cockatoos might be more likely to walk around the right side of the bin while holding the lid, while in the center of the city, these birds might shimmy or hop with the lid on their head.

It probably depends on whom the birds were imitating when they first learned the skill.

"Our results show that the spread of innovation can not only result in establishment of culture, but can also further lead to emergent geographically distinct subcultures," the authors write.

Identifying animal cultures and their spread is challenging science, and little research to date has studied the learned culture of large parrots, despite the fact these birds are highly social and possess really clever brains.

In fact, some bird experts argue cockatoos are just as smart as chimpanzees, who also show evidence of social learning and cultural transmission.

Some populations of chimpanzees, for instance, have adopted a unique culture of honey digging. Through imitation and social learning, these primates have figured out how to use sticks to pull sticky sweetness from logs on the forest floor.

Cockatoos are similarly innovative, even when in the big city, far from their natural wooded habitats. Marking cockatoos at one of the original trash-diving sites, researchers noticed large male parrots are usually the ones throwing open the lid with the most success.

Older and more experienced cockatoos were also seen chucking youngsters out of the way, forcing them to merely watch instead.

cockatoos watching one of their own
Cockatoos watching one of their own. (Barbara Klump/Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior)

In fact, more than 90 percent of the time, when Sydneysiders noticed a cockatoo opening up their bin, there were multiple birds standing around, watching the attempt. Such close observation is a prime opportunity to pass on a skill via social learning.

"Although directionality cannot be ascertained from these data, these patterns are consistent with those expected from social learning," the authors write, "with associated and more socially central individuals having better access to social information and therefore a greater likelihood of learning."

If the authors are right, and this culture of bin-opening is really spreading from three main hotspots in Sydney, more suburbs are in for an inevitable bird surprise. Perhaps, like in raccoon-dominated Toronto, city councils will need to come up with new bin designs.

The study was published in Science.

An older problem is when they get a taste for the timber of your house.

This is one of the lesser examples:

Do they like gnawing particular kinds of wood? I know that parrots need roughage.

I know (bored) dogs (chewing) can do a LOT of damage to an apartment and people's belongings in a short amount of time.

A bit hard to remember, and I haven't got the link to an example where the side of one house was decimated (it was a few years ago).

I think pine is up there, though.

John B:
White cockatoos are the douchebags of the Australian avian community. The chewing thing I can understand at least, it's not malicious behaviour as they probably need to stop their beaks from growing too long to eat with, and then starving to death. But it is annoying when they chew on timber siding, balconies, verandahs..... I've even had them cut a shade sail down.

Watching them interact with other birds is where their douchebag nature really shines. They're quick to display aggressive signals with other species when eating food. We have chickens, and the cockatoos will try to threaten them, even though the chickens are several times larger by mass. They're just rude as well, they will swipe half the food out of the dishes onto the ground, then flip the dish over.

They also love to hang around in large flocks right next to roads, so they are often hit by cars. I rescued a stunned one off the road once and took it to a vet. Getting a full earblast from a cockatoo while inside a car with one is a bit of a shock.

Which brings me to their sound. What kind of just god would make this abomination?

You can imagine 50 of these things in a flock first thing in the morning outside your window.

By the way, compare it to a black cockatoo sound:


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