Intelligent Crows

Rubbish-collecting crows a star attraction at French theme park

, Comments 27 comments

Visitors to a theme park in western France this week have a new attraction to enjoy: six crows that have been specially trained to pick up cigarette ends and rubbish.

The birds have been in action since Monday at the Puy du Fou park, picking up litter on the site that features shows and rides themed around different periods of history.

The black rooks, a member of the crow family, were chosen for their intelligence and have been trained to take small items of litter to a special wooden box in exchange for a tasty nugget of bird food for each deposit.

There have been some instances of cheating, however, with some of the crows attempting to steal rubbish from others to win the rewards.

"It's ecological, it's practical and it's fun to see," Swiss tourist Dorothee Haefliger told AFP.

The managers of the park say the experiment is designed to make visitors more aware about litter.

"We can see litter here on the car park and the crows are picking it up," Christophe Gaborit, who is in charge of falconry at the park, told AFP.

He stood holding the wooden box and dispensing the bird food for each piece of collected rubbish.

"That's not normal. It's up to us, humans, to take care of it. That's the ultimate message," he added.

He said that he had always loved rooks, adding that they are under-appreciated birds.

"People see it differently, so that makes me happy," he said. "We've changed its image and that's really interesting."

© 2018 AFP

3 Comments To This Article

  • Christina posted:

    on 11th August 2018, 18:09:02 - Reply

    They are smart. I observed a black crow perch on a waste receptacle at a gas station. It pecked through a crumpled paper bag from a fast food restaurant to search for leftovers. They also go in the middle of the road to eat dead bugs and know when to flutter or walk over to the side when a car approaches.
  • Fir posted:

    on 11th August 2018, 18:20:47 - Reply

    I like the gist of this piece: using birds to keep a park clean. But the spin the bureaucrat puts on it is ridiculous! They had to train the birds, so we didn't "learn" from nature" but rather we taught nature.
    As an aside, his name "fou" means "foolish, mad, crazy" in French. (I couldn't resist [grin])
  • Allen posted:

    on 11th August 2018, 19:53:30 - Reply

    Wonderful idea! Until a crow empties someone's wallet.