Cockatoos are figuring out how to open bins by copying each other

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Cockatoos opening bins

“Ah, so it just lifts up like this?”

Barbara Klump / Max Planck Insti

A few curious cockatoos learned how to open residential waste bins in Australia, and now other birds have started copying them, with incidences of bin-looting spreading across eastern Australia in easily traceable waves.

“If they had learned it individually, we would have seen this popping up randomly, but their method is really spreading from one suburb to the next,” says Barbara Klump at the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behaviour in Germany.

A few years ago, Richard Major at the Australian Museum Research Institute in Sydney filmed one of several sulphur-crested cockatoos (Cacatua galerita) lifting a bin lid, and he shared the video with Klump’s colleague. Intrigued, the researchers asked…

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