Can Birds Be Trained to Help People?

If you ever visit France's Puy du Fou theme park and want to thank someone for keeping it so clean, look to the sky. You might just see some birds with their beaks full of litter on their way to special collection boxes where, in exchange for discarding the garbage, they are rewarded with a treat. Six rooks -- birds in the same family as crows and ravens -- underwent special training at the park and are now tasked with keeping the park clear of cigarette butts and other pieces of unsightly trash. In actuality, these feathered friends are adjuncts to the real park cleaners and only lend a helping wing. According to park official Nicolas de Villiers, the birds -- Baco, Boubou, Bamboo, Bill, Black, and Bricole -- are really meant to show crowds that “nature itself can teach us to take care of the environment.”

The best of birds:

  • Ravens are gifted mimics; they are even able to imitate predators in order to lead them to kills the birds can't pick apart on their own.
  • Ostriches have the biggest eyes of any land animal; each eye is bigger than the bird's brain.
  • The smallest hummingbirds weigh less than a penny, while the largest weigh about the same as a silver dollar.
More Info: Smithsonian magazine

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