Homeowner's genius bin hack - but can you work out what it does?

An innovative resident in Sydney’s south may have solved an ongoing problem just by filling two water bottles.

Bayside Council shared a photo of the resident’s hack on Facebook: a garbage bin with two filled water bottles cable-tied to the lid.

It’s to stop birds, particularly cockatoos, from opening bins and leaving garbage on the ground by weighing the lid down.

Bayside Council called it “bin-novative” but people on Facebook questioned whether it was glossing over a bigger problem.

“Poor birds,” one woman wrote.

“If people looked after the environment, stopped chopping down all the trees to build more high rise or ugly McMansions replacing grass with artificial grass and concrete and stopped spraying insecticide which kills all the insects that birds feed on the poor birds wouldn’t need to scavenge for food scraps in bins.”

A garbage bin with water bottles tied to it.
A resident in Sydney's south tied water bottles to weight down the bin lid and keep birds out. Source: Bayside Council

Another woman wrote “it’s actually sad”.

Sulphur-crested Cockatoos are known to eat berries, seeds, nuts and roots.

Dr John Martin, who is working with Taronga Zoo’s Clever Cockie Project, told Yahoo News Australia cockatoos, along with parrots and corvids, are intelligent animals.

It’s also not clear if the birds are going through bins because they can’t find food.

“We suspect that bin-opening behaviour is similar to humans grabbing drive-thru,” he said.

“We’ve identified over 100 different plants that they eat in the Sydney region (seeds, fruit, flowers, leaves, roots) so there are plenty of options, of course the availability of these foods varies.

“So bin-scavenging is similar to being directly fed by people, it isn’t essential for the bird’s health but they benefit from an additional source of food.”

He added the weighted bottles on the bin-handle “definitely works”.

“Sulphur-crested cockatoos could chew through the cable-tie or the bottle, but there is no guarantee they will find food under the lid,” Dr Martin said.

“I suspect a better use of their time is to search for an easier meal, which might be a bin down the road.”

Lucy Aplin from the Max Planck Institute of Ornithology told the ABC last year the species is “very explorative” and while “it’s annoying” it’s also “an amazing example of behavioural adaptation”.

"It's a resource [bin raiding] they're using to allow them to exist in these areas. And I think it's pretty amazing they've managed to do this," Dr Aplin said.

Last year, a man from Barden Ridge in Sydney’s south shared a video of a cockatoo pushing a brick off a bin lid to get the garbage inside.

A Taronga Zoo spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia the latest water bottle hack is a “sensible” and “clever” idea noting it also reuses plastic by utilising the bottles.

The most important message is that you should never overfill your bins, as this is what usually attracts wildlife along with other unwanted pests such as rodents,” the spokesperson said.

“Overfilled bin contents usually end up in the gutter and eventually into our waterways.”

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