The wild crows could be extremely useful to ecology, according to a Swedish startup. The birds trained picking up cigarette butts and other small pieces of litter are cleaning our environments, Springwise reports. Over a billion cigarette butts are left on streets each year, and they represent 62 percent of all litter, the Keep Sweden Tidy Foundation reminds.
The Swedish startup chose to use crows as they are the most intelligent bird, and the crows will soon be ready for testing in the city of Södertälje. After the step-by-step learning process, the birds can learn to pick up litter by placing it in to a machine which dispenses food.
“They’re wild birds taking part on a voluntary basis,” said Christian Günther-Hanssen, founder of the company.
Additionally, 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.
A potential pilot project is being investigated in Södertälje municipality, where crows will help pick up litter. In fact, the project starting depends on whether we can find a place in Södertälje which will work with the food dispenser, and then if there are opportunities for financing.
Now, the estimation for the cost of picking up cigarette butts today is around 80 öre or more per cigarette butt, some say 2 kronor. If the crows pick up cigarette butts, this would maybe be 20 öre per cigarette butt. The saving for the municipality depends on how many cigarette butts the crows pick up.
If it’s possible, they would like to get going this spring. It would be interesting to see if this could work in other environments as well. Also, from the perspective that we can teach crows to pick up cigarette butts, but the startup can’t teach people not to throw them on the ground.