November 26, 2022

Wild parrots in Australia teach each other to break in the trash

A litter-loving parrot working in Sydney, Australia.

A litter-loving parrot working in Sydney, Australia.
Photo: Credit Barbara Clump / Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior

Scientists have discovered across the sulfur-crested cuckoo parrots in Sydney, Australia: Raising litter closes the eyelids that hit a snack. In a new study this week, they describe the recent emergence and spread of this learned behavior, which they say is a common but not always easily noticed example of cultural change among non-human animals.

Lucy Uplin and her team at the Max Planck Institute for Animal Behavior have long been interested in unraveling the social life of animals, with a particular focus on birds. For example, there is their previous research As shown Large birds in the UK can quickly pick up and then send a method to solve a puzzle that will give juicy food worms – a skill for learning To explain These birds can cover the milk bottles of an English city a century ago and break the caps and steal the cream inside.

During this time, Ablin and his team, along with other researchers in Australia, spotted a native bird, the sulfur-crested cuckoo, crashing into trash cans across Sydney.

“We are very interested in understanding the potential role of the spread of innovation as a mechanism for behavioral flexibility in changing environments such as cities, so when we first saw this new discovery in the Caucasus we knew we had to read whether it spreads through society. Learning, Cognitive and Cultural Environment in Max Planck Ablin, the head of the lab, said in an email to Kismodo.

Their new research, Published Thursday in Science magazine, it had different angles. First, between 2018 and 2019 they surveyed people in various neighborhoods to see if they had seen bird litter diving. Eventually, they collected more than 300 shots of people lifting trash can covers from 44 suburbs, most of them several parrots. Then they actually went out and tagged more than 400 cuckoos (with temporary color markings) Found in Three hotspots so they can observe the behavior themselves.

From all their work, they determined that before 2018, trash can closure would only occur in three suburbs. But as this behavior began to spread, they discovered that it was technically shifting from place to place, basically creating local flavors that lift. For example, birds in an environment may cover the lid completely, for example, in contrast to birds that open the lid completely. There were also clear patterns of who did the lifting, with men representing 84% of the effort. Birds of all ages claim to lift their eyelids and behaviors are passed down through different groups in the cacophony community, but the most socially dominant males were the most successful forerunners, indicating that they probably had the first tips in the trash.

“Our study adds evidence that other animals have culture, and shows how new discoveries can spread among people, leading to new behaviors,” Uplin said.

Learned behaviors among socially capable animals have been documented many times before, such as sims Passes knowledge about tool usage. In these perspectives, there is also evidence of cultural diversity, with different groups of chips adopting different variations of tool use. But according to Uplin, it remains to be seen how humans and the environments we create can directly shape animal culture, especially as close as it is.

“These findings show that new cultures can quickly emerge in response to urban, man-made opportunities,” he said.

Although the trash-break Break-ins may turn out to be the hottest frenzy in the Kakadu world, the behavior actually spread far less than Appline and his team discovered it. One possible reason for this delay is that it is not an easy trick to learn because it can take months for the birds to hang on to it. Natural barriers such as forest can prevent it from spreading to other neighborhoods, and males (unlike females) tend to be closer to home. Urban parrots are even less migratory, which affects its popularity compared to the suburbs. Of course, there is always the intervention of humans to worry.

“People are starting to protect the tanks because they want to reduce the mess caused by cuckoos!” Aplin noted. “We’re really interested in following this human behavior over time, and we’ll see what effect this can have on cacodo behavior.”

Uplin and his team hope their research can shed further light on how animals can be culturally adapted to a changing world, just as humans have been for thousands of years, no matter what happens to birds that love this litter.

“Our ability to innovate and culture is the secret to our success, which allows us to adapt to different situations and adapt to many new situations. This work shows that this ability is not limited to humans — some other animals have the ability to adapt rapidly to human behavior,” he said. It’s important to understand these behavioral responses to novel contexts if we want to understand when and how animals cope with these changes. “