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July 26, 2021 / Posted by:

The Trash-Raiding Cockatoos of Australia!

Note to raccoons and Bath & Body Works fans looking for some free discarded candles and lotions: You now have some competition in the sport of dumpster diving. Scientists have discovered that cockatoos have learned how to open up trash bins so they can get at any goodies that might be inside. Fuck that “Polly, want a cracker?” shit. Polly is going to get that cracker you threw out by going through your trash!

NBC News says that a few years ago, an ornithologist (“that’s bird nerd scientist” to you and me) named Richard Major noticed that a sulfur-crested cockatoo was going through his trash at his home in Sydney. Richard wasn’t pissed about it and instead slow clapped for the bird’s ability to open the trash bin’s lid with its beak and balance on the edge of the bin while going through it. This intrigued Richard so he got together with scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior in Germany to research the trash-diving cockatoos of Australia. They published their findings in Science and discovered that birds are like an 80s stoner kid whose 80s stoner dad finds their stash. They learned it by watching YOU. Or specifically, they learned it by watching each other.

In the summer of 2019, Barbara Klump, a behavioral ecologist from Max Planck Institute, drove around the suburbs in Sydney on trash day to find cockatoos raiding the bins. She ended up taking 160 videos of cockatoos successfully and unsuccessfully getting into the trash bins. When researchers looked back at the footage, they noticed that opening the bin lids isn’t easy. via Smithsonian:

Busting the bin open is no easy task for a cockatoo, requiring an elaborate sequence of lifting, lid holding, walking and flipping steps. Only eight percent of marked birds—mostly the heavier males—developed the chops to flip open the lids, but the researchers were surprised by the overall persistence in both successful and unsuccessful individuals.

Barbara Klump wrote in the study that most of the cockatoos that were able to open the trash lids were dom top dudes:

Analyzing the footage, Klump realized the vast majority of birds opening bins were males, which tend to be larger than females. The birds that mastered the trick also tended to be dominant in social hierarchies.

“This suggests that if you’re more socially connected, you have more opportunities to observe and acquire new behavior — and also to spread it,” she said.

Barbara went on to write that the cockatoos learned this by watching each other and this further proves that birds are adapting to living with humans in urban areas. Here are the cockatoos shitting on the term “bird brain” by proving they are geniuses at opening trash bins:

If the trash-opening Australian cockatoos ever make their way to California, that’ll be bad news for me. Cockatoos are known assholes, and if one opens my bin, it’ll laugh right in my sad face after finding my Saturday night remnants of an empty box of wine, an empty pizza box, and an empty bottle of lube. It’ll laugh because it’ll know that my pathetic ass used that bottle of lube on myself and myself only and it’d be right. And I don’t need that!

Pic: YouTube

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