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Good birdie! This box trains crows to collect cigarette butts for cleaner cities


The world is full of trash. Look around your local park and you’ll spot gum wrappers, plastic bottles, and crinkled up cans tossed carelessly aside. But not all litter is so obvious. Look a little closer to the ground, kick some grass aside, and you’ll find flattened cylinders dug into the dirt. Cigarette butts — they’re practically everywhere and essentially eternal. It takes over a decade for a filter to degrade, which means a kid could play at the park next to the same discarded butt from childhood to adolescence.

But a team of Dutch designers have devised a clever way to clean up our shared space by enlisting an unlikely ally: crows.

Crows are incredibly intelligent. Despite thumb-sized brains, they’re sophisticated thinkers and tinkerers, fastening rods out of sticks to “fish” insects and larvae out of tree bark. They’re also some of the best problem solvers in the animal kingdom. In one study, a crow named 007 successfully completed an eight-step puzzle for a food reward, and did so without any of Bond’s gadgets.