A lot of people don’t know this fact, but crows are actually very intelligent birds. They have an extensive list of skills, and now, they’re helping humans reverse our littering issues. The birds are being recruited and trained as a part of project in Södertälje, Sweden that will have them pick up cigarette butts.
The crows will then place the discarded cigarette butts as well as other small bits of litter into a machine built by Corvid Cleaning, a Swedish startup. Then the eco-warriors will receive a treat for their efforts.
Christian Günther-Hanssen, the founder of the company said: “They’re wild birds taking part on a voluntary basis.”
The birds are not only receiving a delicious treat while cleaning the city, they’re also saving that city a lot of money. The company has estimated that the project will be able to reduce the cost of cigarette butt collection by about 75%.
As Günther-Hanssen says, “The estimation for the cost of picking up cigarette butts today is around 80 öre [$0.09] or more per cigarette butt, some say 2 kronor [$0.22]. If the crows pick up cigarette butts, this would maybe be 20 öre [$0.022] per cigarette butt.”
An estimated 1 billion cigarette butts litter the streets of Sweden every year, making up 62% of the total litter according to the Keep Sweden Tidy Foundation. $2.1 million is spent in Södertälje in order to clean the streets.
This is where the crows come into the picture. The highly intelligent birds were chosen for the task. “They are easier to teach and there is also a higher chance of them learning from each other. At the same time, there’s a lower risk of them mistakenly eating any rubbish,” says Günther-Hanssen.
Crows are known for their abilities to bend wire, build and use tools, use sticks, and understand the quantity of zero. If this project proves to be successful, then the idea could spread to other locations are perhaps be a huge help in other cities and even countries as well.