Cockatoos are causing havock flipping wheelie bin lids

"Residents have started to protect their bins and use a variety of different measures."

If magpie swooping season isn’t scary enough, another Aussie bird is giving people some grief.

Clever cockatoos are working out how to flip the lid on your wheelie bin to treat themselves to whatever you’ve got inside. 

(Credit: Getty)

Research published this week in Current Biology investigates how bin owners keep the cockies out of their rubbish. 

Head researcher Barbara Klump, a behavioural ecologist at the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior in Germany, told the ABC bin owners are getting very creative – and for a good reason. 

“Cockatoos make a lot of mess when they open bins and take all the rubbish out. So, of course, understandably, the local residents are not too amused by it,” Dr Klump said. 

“So residents have started to protect their bins and use a variety of different measures to try to keep those cockies out … in what we call an ‘innovation arms race’ between the cockatoos and the people,” says Dr Klump.

The same researchers studied the behaviour of the cockies last year, finding they have learnt to flip the lid on wheelie bins by watching others do it. 

cockatoos flipping wheeli bins
(Credit: Getty)

The study

Dr Klump and her crew conducted a census of more than 3,200 bins in Woronora, Barden Ridge, Helensburgh and Stanwell Park to see how residents are protecting their bins.

“In a very short amount of time, like a couple of weeks, we went to four suburbs where we knew that cockatoos open bins, and we attempted to record for every single bin if it was protected, and if so, how it was protected.”

Placing bricks on top of the bin was a popular method, while others used water bottles, shoes or ropes to stop the lid from opening. 

So what is the best way to keep cockies out of your bin?

prevention methods against cockatoos
(Credit: Current Biology)

How to keep cockatoos out of your bin

Apparently, it depends on how long the cockies have been trying to break into your bin. 

That said, Dr Klump thinks a brick on the bin is enough to stop the majority of cockies from flipping the lid. 

“And [a brick] still seems to work because we see it a lot. Overall, it was the most frequently observed protection method.

“People wouldn’t keep doing it if it didn’t work.”

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