Friday, 7th February 2020
Flying squad of crows and parrots swoop down to collect litter in Abu Dhabi’s parks as trainer asks ‘if a bird can pick up trash, why can't humans?’
A flying squad of savvy birds have been trained to pick up litter and encourage people in Abu Dhabi to follow suit.
The crows and parrots were trained by Barari Natural Resources, which manages more than 400 forests and nature reserves.
The birds will make appearances at all public parks as part of the company's Nature Educates Us campaign.
In Al Hayer Park in Al Ain, bird trainer German Alonso Malo, told The National: 'If a bird is able to pick up trash, why can't humans do the same thing?'
Mr Alonso, who is from Spain, started training the litter-picking birds in January last year.
He said they initially wanted to start training crows because they are very clever but they had to start with parrots because they didn't have access to crows.
Mr Alonso said: 'We started with three parrots. They joke a lot and you'll see that they are a little bit like clowns but they do a good job. But the crows, of course, are the better workers.'
Because a bird's strongest sense is sight, they are able to easily find small pieces of plastic or cigarette butts.
After the birds had mastered picking those pieces of litter up, Mr Alonso began training them to sort rubbish into different receptacles.
Even though there are 25 birds currently enrolled in the training programme, just five crows and two parrots are trusted enough to participate in demonstrations.
The birds will be bred to create another group of crows that can be trained.
Cigarette butts, which are believed to be the most common form of litter on the entire planet, contain chemicals that can stunt the growth of grass by up to 13 per cent.
Barari Natural Resources considered training the birds in 2018 after it's chief executive, Ahmed Alblooki, was inspired by a similar programme in France.
They train Indian house crows - a species found in mangroves in Abu Dhabi.
The company is working with the Department of Urban Planning and Municipalities to decide on a schedule of demonstrations.