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Dutch Startup Wants to Train Crows to Clean Streets of Cigarette Butts

Alarmed by how many cigarette butts littered the parks of Amsterdam, two Dutch designers came up with an unusual plan to train crows to pick up the butts and trade them for tasty rewards.

Industrial designers Ruben van der Vleuten and Bob Spikman originally considered using robots to clean the streets of cigarette butts, but they presented a series of difficulties, particularly the complicated programming required to have them vacuuming the buts out of every nook and cranny while trying to avoid bicycles and passers-by. So they turned their attention to one of the most abundant resources of urban areas – birds. Pigeons were the first ones they considered, because they can be found in virtually every city in the world, but a quick search revealed that they aren’t really known for their intelligence, so training them would have been very hard. But the two designers soon found a bird that was both very common around human settlements and much, much smarter – the crow.

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Japanese Professor Claims That Crows Respect Written “Do Not Enter” Signs

When a friend and “crow expert” told Katsufumi Sato to hang some “do not enter signs” on the outside of a building to keep pesky crows a way, the Japanese professor thought he was only kidding, but after three years of employing the bizarre strategy, he says it works perfectly.

Sato, a professor of ethology, hanged his first “crows do not enter” signs at a university research center in Otsuchi, Japan’s Iwate Prefecture, in 2015, at the the advice of his friend, Tsutomu Takeda, who he regards as an expert on crows. The birds had been targeting the insulation material covering the building’s pipes, ripping it with their beaks and flying away with bits of it to use for their nests. He was desperate to keep them away, so even though he though the idea of hanging written signs for crows funny, he was willing to give it a try.

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8-Year-Old Girl Feeds Neighborhood Crows, They Thank Her with Gifts

8-year-old Gabi Mann, from Seattle, has some very unusual friends who shower her with gifts almost every day. Ever since she started feeding her neighborhood crows, they began returning the favor and bringing back all kinds of trinkets.

Gabi’s unique relationship with the neighborhood crows began in 2011, when at age four, she was prone to dropping food. Soon, the crows were always watching for her, hoping to get a bite of the crumbs she dropped. As she got older, she began to feed them consciously – she would share her lunch with them on the way to the bus stop. It wasn’t long before crows were lining up in the afternoon to greet her at the stop.

In 2013, Gabi started feeding the birds regularly, instead of sharing her scraps with them. Along with her family, she would fill the birdbath in the backyard with fresh water every day, cover the bird feeder platforms with peanuts and throw handfuls of dog food on to the grass. Soon, the crows automatically lining up on the telephone lines, waiting for their treats.

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Recycling Tokyo Crows Build Their Nests Out of Coat Hangers

Crows are known to be highly intelligent birds, and it looks like they can now teach us a thing or two about recycling and stealing. The Asian Jungle Crow, a large-billed crow, actually builds its nest out of coat hangers that it steals from people’s homes!

Crows make use of pretty much anything they find lying around to build their hardy nests. House Crows generally build crude structures, made of interlocking twigs gathered from surrounding trees and shrubs. They weave the twigs together with little pieces of metallic wire that strengthen the nest structure. In some nests, the clever crows incorporate knotted lengths of thick plastic instead.

But perhaps the most amazing crow nests are the ones built around Tokyo, Japan. Twigs and other natural materials are hard to come by in the busy metropolis, so the birds settle for the next best thing, and that seems to be coat hangers. You have got to see pictures to believe it! A blogger had posted some of these images way back in 2005, after solving the mystery of the missing hangers from her back yard. But it isn’t just the one nest – it seems that Japanese Jungle Crows are compulsive collectors of hangers!

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A Fascinating Story of Exploding Toads and Clever Crows

In April 2005, a small pond in Hamburg, Germany became the center of a great mystery, rather repulsive in nature. A documentary film made on the phenomenon reported:

“About 1,000 dead toads were discovered lying around the edges. Their bodies appeared to have exploded. Eye-witnesses said they swelled up to about three-and-a-half times their normal size and then simply burst. And they burst with such an explosive force that their entrails were blown over several square meters.”

For several weeks, the common European toads in question received international attention. Scientists were totally baffled, unable to provide an explanation for the unnatural deaths. Health officials panicked – they suspected a virus spread by South American race horses from a nearby track. The tabloid press had a field day with the story, labelling the area ‘The Pond of Death’. Things got worse when the epidemic spread across the border to a nearby Danish lake.

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