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Birds trained to clear litter in theme park

Litter is always an issue in public places and can ruin the ambiance of a theme park. Using cleaners to clear it away can also spoil the atmosphere of a carefully themed attraction. But one theme park in France has come up with a novel solution to the problem.

Puy de Fou is a historical theme park in the Vendée region which is now employing birds to clear up litter!

Harbingers of doom

Rooks are traditionally symbols of evil and are often considered to be pests. However, these birds are also highly intelligent and have now been trained to pick up cigarette buts and other small items of litter dropped by visitors to the park.

The birds deposit their finds in a box and are then rewarded with food for their efforts. Six birds are being used to collect the waste and are demonstrating that nature can teach us to look after
the environment.

The rooks have proved to be very quick and diligent workers. They can fill a bucket with rubbish in less than 45 minutes!

The brainchild of a falconer

The novel idea was dreamt up by one of the park’s falconers who is experienced in training birds of prey. He felt that the bright and sociable rooks could be trained to perform the necessary tasks and he was right!

As intelligent as a seven-year-old

Some biologists have estimated that crows are as intelligent as a seven-year-old child. The are able to make tools and various experiments have demonstrated that they are capable of solving complex puzzles. For instance, these birds will bend wire to make a hook, even if they haven’t encountered wire before.

The worm in the water

In one experiment, scientists placed a group of crows in a room featuring a worm in a tub of water. The worm was just out of pecking distance. A pile of pebbles was also placed in the room and the crows were able to work out that if they dropped the pebbles into the water, they could bring the worm within reach. The birds did not try to use objects which would float or which were too large to fit in the tub.

Crows are also thought to possess the ability recognise individual human faces. So, don’t annoy a crow!

The term, "bird-brained" is a misnomer as although birds have small brains, many species are highly intelligent.

Guests entertained by the birds

Puy de Fou is the second most visited park in France after Disneyland Paris. Guests have been thrilled by the activity of the rooks which have brought a new dimension to the attraction. The feathery cleaners haven’t scared the public and are helping to ensure that the park is one of the tidiest places in the country.

Litter was never a major problem at Puy de Fou. The priority in training the birds was to add interest to the park and to demonstrate the abilities of the much-maligned rooks, enabling guests to view them in a whole new light.


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