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Project: CrowBox
CrowBox Picture.jpg


Naam CrowBox
Door Erik Goff
Status Idee
Madskillz houtbewerken, electronica, programming
Doel / Omschrijving
Teach Crows how to trade bottlecaps or cigarette buds for treats
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File:CrowBox_Picture.jpg noez

Crows can help to make our cities clean!

The idea is to eventually teach crows and other intelligent birds to pick up cigarette buds or other trash and trade it in for a treat, likely a peanut.

Project needs a few phases :

  1. make a simple bird feeder for crows and put it on the roof, see if any crows are interested
  2. place a webcam with movement detection opposite the feeder so we can see what happens

once we have our flock of crows we can start training them. For that we need a crowbox, which is an open source effort: http://www.thecrowbox.com/ The idea is to make a food dispenser for crows, that gives out food every time they pay with a bottle cap. i think a bottle cap is easier to detect than a cigarette bud so it seems easier to build.

some random thoughts : also place prototypes of these crowboxes in other locations where crows hang out, like the watermolen in arnhem. If the distance between the crowboxes are small enough, groups of crows might teach each other. It will also educate people so there might be more crowboxes worldwide. There are trillions of cigarette buds to clean up !

C.R.O.W.S. = Creative self-Replicating Organic Waste Separators (any other creative ideas ?)

If you are interested, feel free to join in this project. Lets Crow out !

More ideas

  • we could set up a crypto micropayment webcam where people pay a little crypto and with that they activate the bird feeder and place extra peanuts
  • the feeder should have MouseProtection(tm)
  • futher in the future, we could make puzzles for the crows and do intelligence research


  • After more research i found that it is easy to train the birds into picking any trash. There is no need for an object detector so they dont throw in stones, leaves etc, if you train them properly https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEhPdSIMrLNynfwnkibVzZg
  • The birds seem to love dry cat food
  • The dispenser of food needs to be variable so we can figure out the right economics ( how much food makes it worthwile for the bird ? ). One idea is to use a drill as wormwheel. Wormwheel should be really light so we have a chance to run the whole thing on a powerpack. Exit of the wormwheel should be a bended pipe so there is no chance that a curious bird can get stuck in the wormwheel.
  • Food need to be dispensed regulary, e.g. every hour, so the birds know the pattern. The software needs to take the length of day into account, so the first food is always 10 mins after sunrise.
  • It would be cool to make a counter so we know how much trash was picked up. publish counter, videos etc on some website
  • Research indicates two food items which, when offered together, are quite effective at attracting corvids:
  1. Roasted, unsalted, shell-on peanuts
  2. Baked Cheetos or similar baked cheese snack
  • There should be a logo that the birds like , so they can recognise these machines in case we have thousands one day. A blue circle seems ok. there is a chance the birds cannot see violet/pink since they are probably more to the red spectrum, so blue should set out well for them. >>update: As birds are tetrachromats, they see four colors: UV, blue, green, and red https://www.boredpanda.com/human-vs-bird-vision/
  • Should we dispense food when it rains ?
  • Browsing the web i keep finding this dutch company that seems to be disappeared long time ago. Maybe their business model was wrong, and governments would be interested to place several of these for a fee. It will save them on city maintenance costs.

--One member already offered help, so we are forming a C.R.O.W-team (Cool Radical Ornithology Wizards) now ! welcome beunhaas !!

Project Updates

  • In the collecting materials stage
  • I am currently designing the crowbox in freeCad