Cockatoos in Australia have figured out how to open trashcans and apparently there's nothing anyone can do to stop them
· Oct 20, 2022 ·

Time was, in the United States, homeowners had to worry about rowdy gangs of hooligans tipping over trashcans and spreading garbage everywhere.

But, Australia being what it is, there they worry about sweet little parrots doing the same thing:

Outside a local cafe, a sulphur-crested cockatoo perched on a garbage bin, trying to open the lid. Another loitered nearby, waiting to see if its companion found tasty morsels in the trash. ...

"It is chaos every Tuesday morning," said Grant Drinkwater, 61, who has experimented with various devices to stop cockatoos from getting into his bins, which are collected that day each week. "Some people put bricks on top of their bins, but the cockatoos just push them off with their nose."

This otherwise idyllic coastal neighborhood is Ground Zero for what scientists call a potential "innovation arms race" between humans and cockatoos battling for control of the area's garbage bins. As the cockatoos figure out ways into people's bins, the humans respond with evermore elaborate devices to protect their garbage.

Spoiler alert: Those "evermore elaborate" efforts aren't working. These birds are smart and they love their garbage. A brick, for instance, is no match for them:

The problem, of course, is that no matter how good your anti-bird defense system is, it "still [has] to allow the bin lid to open for the garbage truck," which limits the scope of systems you can employ.

Meanwhile, the cockatoos are starting to cooperate:

"They've actually started to work in packs," said Edith McNally, a retired school principal, who often sees cockatoos rummaging through bins on her morning walks in the neighborhood. "It's like gang warfare."

My advice to Australians: Make peace with the birds, cause they're probably going to be running things in just a decade or two.

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