So this is an interesting use of wildlife. Train them to pick up garbage for us, to keep the environment clean and safe for wildlife. That’s like teaching a baby to change its own diaper.
It’s happening in France, and they’re using crows. Birds are being trained to pick up trash around a theme park. It’s actually an interesting idea, and it seems to be working. Before we get into the whole “well maybe we should just train people to not litter” debate, well, yes. But the theme park officials say that visitors are generally already pretty good about not littering. It’s also an exercise in seeing how “nature itself can teach us to take care of the environment.”
See also: Doctors create prosthetic beak for bird.
How does one train a bird? Food rewards, just the same way we’d train dogs. There’s a specially designed trash can made just for the birds to use. When the birds drop a piece of trash in, a pellet of bird food will come out. The birds themselves are also some of the more intelligent ones. Specifically, the bird species being used is a rook, a member of the crow family. These birds have actually shown that they “like to communicate with humans and establish a relationship through play.” Oh, you know, just playing fetch with my bird.
I still can’t even get my dog to get that ball I threw across the back yard last week. Maybe she’s training me. See some more information on the bird training over here, and I’ll be sulking next to a pile of tennis balls by lunch.