JAN 31, 2018 9:23 AM PST

Can we teach crows to pick up litter?


With all the litter in the world, you would think that we would have figured out a smart way to start collecting it, right? Well, turns out a Dutch start-up is working on just that with an unlikely ally: crows. Crowded Cities has begun training crows to pick up cigarette butts with a device called the Crowbar. The start-up decided to focus on cigarettes because they are the most littered object on the planet; we litter an estimated 4.5 trillion cigarette butts annually, and the plastic inside cigarette filters can take up to 10 years to decompose.

Employing crows, one of the smartest birds out there in the corvid family, plays on the birds' natural intelligence and social behavior. Here's how it works: Step 1. the crows bring a cigarette filter to the Crowbar, where they drop it into the bottom funnel to get it checked. Step 2: After the camera has recognized the cigarette filter as a filter, it returns a bit of food to the table in front of the crow. Step 3: The crow tells other crows and they learn by example. Sounds, amazing, no? Learn more about this awesome idea by watching the video above!
About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
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