- Hans Forsberg built a machine designed to train the birds to collect trash, specifically bottle caps, around his garden.
- The birds will then drop the bottle caps in the machine, which will dispense food.
- The device has vibrating motors and even a graphic user interface to keep track of the status of the bird box.
Think of something like a vending machine that will give food to birds. This is what computer scientist Hans Forsberg created for his friendly neighborhood magpies, whom in the process he also trained to recycle bottle caps in exchange for food.
In Hans’ backyard lives a pair of magpies which started to fiddle with the locks on his outdoor lanterns. He observed that the birds were intent on getting the paraffin candles inside the lanterns because, well, they wanted to steal it.
This triggered an idea in Hans’ head and decided to create something that will use the birds’ efforts and ingenuity for something that will benefit all of them.
He built a machine designed to train the birds to collect trash, specifically bottle caps, around his garden. The birds will then drop the bottle caps in the machine, which will dispense food.
Of course, the project wasn’t so simple. It involves making a device that can store small food pieces (animal kibble or peanuts) and will dispense one or two pieces when something is deposited on its receptacle.
So there’s a base with a small compartment plus a tube where the food passes through for dispensing.
Hans placed a Raspberry Pi system with a camera in the main box so it can monitor what’s going on. He made use of detectors that will trigger the device to dispense food.
Watch here to see how it works:
On top of that, there are also vibrating motors and even a graphic user interface to keep track of the status of the bird box. Hans revealed that his project has been running for several years now – magpies are not so easy to train to pick up trash.
Also, adult magpies are cautious and suspicious of everything, so it took time to get them to approach the machine and participate in its recycling function.
Hans hopes to do this system better and train the magpies to pick up other stuff, like cigarette butts and fallen fruit, for recycling.
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