Cockatoo can imitate humans. Ornithologists have found in a new study that cockatoo birds know how to open trash bins. Although it may not seem much to a person, expert Richard Major was impressed to see a cockatoo open a waste lid. His curiosity led to new research.
Together with other experts in Germany, Major started a study to find out how many cockatoos know how to do this trick and what led to this outcome. Based on a survey, researchers found birds from three Sydney suburbs could open a trash bin lid in 2008. However, by the end of 2019, cockatoos from 44 suburbs could do this trick as well.
“From three suburbs to 44 in two years is a pretty rapid spread,” said Major.
It is impressive to see so many birds learning this trick so fast. Therefore, experts wondered how the birds learned this trick? Did they learn from each other or by themselves? However, a published study shows that cockatoo birds learned this trick from watching humans.
“That spread wasn’t just popping up randomly. It started in southern suburbs and radiated outwards,” said Major.
Observing a new social behaviour in birds is a fantastic chance for the experts. It is an excellent opportunity to explore how birds develop their aptitudes.
“This is a scientist’s dream,” said Lucy Aplin, a cognitive ecologist at Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavioral in Germany and co-author of the study.
Max Planck Institute behavioural ecologist, Barbara Klump, had caught 160 successful performances on camera in 2019. Of course, not all of them managed to open the trash lid, but the results are still pretty impressive. According to the research, a male cockatoo is more likely to do the trick than a female.
“In an unpredictable, rapidly changing environment with unpredictable food sources, opportunistic animals thrive,” said Isabelle Laumer, a behavioural researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles.