These Smart Crows Clean Up the Litter at French Theme Park

Written by Melissa Breyer

Not that they should have to do our dirty work, but there are lessons to be learned from these clever corvids.

Crows are smart. They†make and use tools, they can†reason†about cause and effect, they solve puzzles and can even†remember people†who have done them wrong. And now the latest talent to add to their bag of tricks? They can pick up the litter that dumb humans leave scattered about.

Specifically, a flock of six rooks have been trained to pick up cigarette butts and other trash at an historical theme park, Puy du Fou, in the Vendťe region of Western France. (Where people still smoke cigarettes, who knew?)

Rooks (Corvus frugilegus) belong to the Old World crow family of†Corvidae†Ė and like other members of the family, they have many starring roles in†folklore. They are said to be able to forecast weather and to sense the approach of death. By some accounts, rooks are responsible for escorting the souls of the virtuous dead to heaven … or as in the case of France, escort trash to the bin.

So is it fair to be asking crows to pick up after people?

Nicolas de Villiers, whose father opened the fantastical living history theme park in 1978, says that there is a bit of a lesson to be learned.

“The goal is not just to clear up, because the visitors are generally careful to keep things clean” but also to show that “nature itself can teach us to take care of the environment,” he tells†AFP.

He adds that they are “particularly intelligent” and “like to communicate with humans and establish a relationship through play.”

The park attracts more than 2 million visitors annually, making it the second most popular theme park in France after Disneyland Paris.

For their efforts, the birds will be rewarded with a prize from a treat-dispensing box each time they deposit a piece of trash. Which makes me wonder: These birds are so smart, what happens when they start littering on their own in an effort to earn more treats?

Via†Quartz

This post originally appeared on TreeHugger.

Photo Credit: NottsExMiner/Flickr

86 comments

RosemaryRannes HusbandNee

Thank you for this article Melissa!
" Nicolas de Villiers, whose father opened the fantastical living history theme park in 1978, says that there is a bit of a lesson to be learned.

“The goal is not just to clear up, because the visitors are generally careful to keep things clean” but also to show that “nature itself can teach us to take care of the environment,” he tells AFP."

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Colin C
Colin Cabout a month ago

I am certain I have read that in Europe they use Geese to weed fields where potatoes are grown.

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Thomas M
Thomas Mabout a month ago

Very good

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Marija M
Marija Mabout a month ago

Surprise, surprise...

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Lesa D
Lesa Dabout a month ago

by hook or by ROOK!!! thank you Corvids!!!

thank you Melissa...

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June M
June Mabout a month ago

thanks for sharing

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hELEN hEARFIELD
hELEN habout a month ago

tyfs

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Kathy G
Kathy Gabout a month ago

Thank you

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Kathy G
Kathy Gabout a month ago

Thank you

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Camilla Vaga
Camilla Vagaabout a month ago

thx

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