Crows are known to be among the brightest of our feathered friends. So it should come as no surprise that a new startup, Crowded Cities, is enlisting them to help clean up cigarette butts. Yup, these butt-busting birds are fighting litter for treats.
Cigarettes are the most widely distributed garbage on the planet with 4.5 trillion cigarettes tossed to the curb every year. Since they take 12 years to decompose, cigarettes pose a major threat to the environment.
Dutch startup, Crowded Cities, is training crows to collect cigarette butts in exchange for peanuts. The crows are trained using a four-step program to collect butts and deposit them in a ‘Crow Bar’, a bird feeder invented by American Bob Spikman.
Train your Own Crows with the Crow Box
Following the same rationale as the crow bar, the crow box is an open-source project that hopes to bring crows into the fight against pollution. You can download plans for the Crow Box- a device that exchanges food for garbage here. Join in the ongoing experiment by making your own observations and sending them in for others to share. This body of growing knowledge will help us to train crows to reach garbage in places that humans can’t.
From the site: “Different crows learn at different speeds and in different ways, and the only way to figure out the best way to teach them is experimentation. The more people trying different things the faster we’ll all figure out how to work cooperatively with crows.” You can exchange ideas and get tips from the Crow Box forum.
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