20 Aug 2018
A French theme park is set to deploy six ‘intelligent’ birds to pick up rubbish and spruce up the grounds, as reported on the BBC.
The Puy du Fou theme park in Les Epesses is being cleaned by rooks, which have been taught to collect cigarette ends and other small bits of rubbish. The birds are then rewarded with food once they deposit the litter into a small box.
Nicolas de Villiers, the head of the park, told AFP news agency that the goal is not just to keep the area clean, as the visitors do generally make an effort to keep the surroundings tidy. He said that it was also about showing "that nature itself can teach us to take care of the environment".
He described the rooks, which are a member of the crow family, as “particularly intelligent” and said that they "like to communicate with humans and establish a relationship through play".
While birds being made to clean up parks is not a common practice, a bird’s intelligence is not unheard of. Earlier this year, a crow’s ability to solve problems was displayed through a vending machine that scientists created.
The machine required a particular size of paper token to release a treat. Scientists found that the crows could remember the right size of paper, and they even trimmed bigger pieces until they could fit into the machine.
Corvids, which include ravens, crows and rooks, along with parrots are considered to be among the smartest bird species. Social birds also tend to exhibit more intelligent behaviour than solitary species.