Hans Forsberg worked with robotics on industrial applications for artificial intelligence. He learned how he could put his knowledge and the family of wild birds living in his backyard to fair use. So, he decided to train the friendly magpies in his neighborhood to recycle the trash in exchange for food using a machine he built.
Magpies Are Clever
Hans has a backyard where a pair of magpies have also been living, one day, Hans saw how the curious birds started finagling with the complex locks on his outdoor lamps. And then a thought occurred to him. The magpies were trying to get to the paraffin candles inside the lamps—because why not, just like crows, they like stealing—but Hans concluded that these birds could quite possibly carry out more meaningful tasks. So, he determined to build a robotic machine to train the birds to gather trash around his garden in exchange for snacks. His project included a few key components and processes.
First, there’s the dispenser, which contains the food, like peanuts and seeds. Whenever a bottle cap—is dropped into the repository, it gives out one or two food pieces. Once an offering is provided, the food is distributed and drops through a tube and down a funnel connected to a base with a small compartment where the bird can claim it. The project is much more complicated than what is said here. It also involves vibrating motors, several very particular moving parts in the dispenser, and even its graphic user interface to log the bird box’s progress and status.
It Took a While
It turns out; his project has been running for a few years as it’s been quite a process to train magpies to collect and gather trash. Hans explained that initially, he had to get the birds interested in the feeder, feed them regularly. The adult magpies were suspicious and wary of everything, so he had to be careful when he was training them essentially even the slightest change could alert them. But luckily, all of this changed when they had offspring. The younger chicks are braver in approaching the machine and partaking in this elaborate recycling scheme.