Readers Write about crows . . .
Yesterday’s post was all about crows, well, in a way. . .it was about the suburb of Crows Nest.
So it would seem appropriate to reprint an email received from Byter Rob T which deals with crows, the birds, not the suburb . . .
Hi Otto,Just a little snippet of interest …,"We can teach crows to pick up cigarette butts but we can’t teach people not to throw them on the ground. That’s an interesting thought”https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/feb/01/swedish-crows-pick-up-cigarette-butts-litterCrows are being recruited to pick up discarded cigarette butts from the streets and squares of a Swedish city as part of a cost-cutting drive.Best,Rob T
Here is the article from The Guardian for which Rob sent the link:
Crows trained to pick up cigarette butts in Sweden
Daniel Boffey in Brussels
Tue 1 Feb 2022 20.35 AEDT
Swedish firm deploys crows to pick up cigarette butts
Clever corvids become newest weapon in Södertälje’s war against street litter
Crows are being recruited to pick up discarded cigarette butts from the streets and squares of a Swedish city as part of a cost-cutting drive.
The wild birds carry out the task as they receive a little food for every butt that they deposit in a bespoke machine designed by a startup in Södertälje, near Stockholm.
“They are wild birds taking part on a voluntary basis,” said Christian Günther-Hanssen, the founder of Corvid Cleaning, the company behind the method.
The Keep Sweden Tidy Foundation says that more than 1bn cigarette butts are left on Sweden’s streets each year, representing 62% of all litter. Södertälje spends 20m Swedish kronor (£1.6m) on street cleaning.
Günther-Hanssen estimates his method could save at least 75% of costs involved with picking up cigarette butts in the city.
Södertälje is carrying out a pilot project before potentially rolling out the operation across the city, with the health of the birds being the key consideration given the type of waste involved.
Clever crows: birds use tools in same way as great apes and humans
New Caledonian crows, a member of the corvid family of birds, are as good at reasoning as a human seven-year-old, research has suggested, making them the smartest birds for the job.
Günther-Hanssen said: “They are easier to teach and there is also a higher chance of them learning from each other. At the same time, there’s a lower risk of them mistakenly eating any rubbish.
“The estimation for the cost of picking up cigarette butts today is around 80 öre [Swedish change] or more per cigarette butt, some say two kronor. If the crows pick up cigarette butts, this would maybe be 20 öre per cigarette butt. The saving for the municipality depends on how many cigarette butts the crows pick up.”
Tomas Thernström, a waste strategist at Södertälje municipality, said the potential of the pilot depended on financing.
“It would be interesting to see if this could work in other environments as well. Also from the perspective that we can teach crows to pick up cigarette butts but we can’t teach people not to throw them on the ground. That’s an interesting thought,” he said.
I wonder – we are constantly exhorted by naturalists not to feed wildlife because they lose the instinct to forage and survive on their own. Does that apply to crows. And what of winter when everything is covered in snow?
That also reminds me that John P sent me an email about crows:
The NSW Police found a large number of dead crows on the Sturt Highway just outside Wagga Wagga early this morning, and there was concern that they may have died from Avian Flu.A pathologist examined the remains of all the crows and, to everyone's relief, confirmed the problem was NOT Avian Flu.The cause of death appeared to be from vehicular impacts. However, during analysis it was noted that varying colours of paints appeared on the birds’ beaks and claws.By analysing these paint residues it was found that 98% of the crows had been killed by impact with motorbikes, while only 2% were killed by cars.The investigators then hired an Ornithological Behaviourist to determine if there was a cause for the disproportionate number of motorbike kills versus car kills.The Ornithological (Bird) Behaviourist quickly concluded that when crows eat road kill, they always have a look-out crow to warn of danger.They discovered that while all the lookout crows could shout "Cah", not a single one could shout "bike"!
I will see myself out.