Home: Garden: Wildlife
Puzzle Birdfeeders   (+6, -2)  [vote for, against]
Activate decaying intelligence

This is product useful for stimulating the avian mind.

I am currently watching a bird eating out of dish full of oatmeal (the hedgehog previously used for this was let go).

The bird just stands there in the sun, looking around, and then lazily leans over and sucks down an oatmeal flake. Then it leans back, and enjoys the sun. Whenever it wants to eat, it just leans forward, and picks up another oatmeal flake.

This is a young bird, and occasionally is fed flakes by a parent-figure, although he is much larger then his parent-figure.

Instead of contributing to the mental flaccidness of growing and learning birds, risking leaving grown birds terminally stupid, I would like to develop a series of puzzle birdfeeders.

These would be simple wood and rope constructions, very cheap to make. Buy many of them, and provide a stimulating school for the regular birds in your backyard. Increase the neighborhood IQ.

These feeders are normally pre-charged with 'success' feed to attract the initial curious bird.

All buttons are easy-to-press and large for clumsy children birds.

Descriptions of an initial release of puzzle birdfeeders follow:

(Push) A bird feed container that only releases bird feed when a lever is pressed.

(Pull) This feeder releases feed when a rope is pulled

(Chord) Feed is released when two buttons are pressed simultaneously

(Order) Feed is released when a set of small wooden keys are pressed in a preset appropriate sequence. This could just be two keypresses. For instance, left immediately followed by right drops feed. Right followed by left does nothing.

(Foresight) Feed is released, on left hand side of the feeder, if a button is depressed on the right side.

(Sandwich) Two large squares of wood balanced on a beam over a bin with a trap door. A rope connects the second square to the first square. Food is stacked on the first square, and then the second square is set upon the food. The birds need to eat evenly around the edges of the sandwich to avoid having the second (upper) square tip over and drop into the bin below. The rope will pull the first square and the food will follow -- all gone!

(Guillotine) This feeder is a vertical tower, filled with alternating compressed birdseed blocks or bread and wooden slats. The slats are staggered somewhat randomly through the tower, and attach at one or both sides, perpendicularly or diagonally, into slots on the wall of the tower. As birdseed is removed from the bottom of a slat, or a supporting slat drops, the slat will slide down, changing the configuration of the feeder. The bird will then have to alter its tactics to get the rest of the feed. The depth of this feeder can allow for tactics such as boring a hole through feed to get to additional feed stored deeper, before eating supporting feed and losing access due to a dropping slat. Move quick!
-- mylodon, Nov 17 2007

prisoner's dilemma http://en.wikipedia.../Prisoner's_dilemma
[off-topic] the key is cooperation, not war. [pyggy potamus, Nov 17 2007]

Kea - http://www.bbc.co.u...ures/132index.shtml
Avain problem solvers (link is just one example/report) [neutrinos_shadow, Nov 19 2007]

-- phoenix, Nov 17 2007

i own five pairs of lovebirds, one pair does nothing but make-out the whole day and it ticks me off...no lovebird of mine should get more action than my grandma

to test my lovebird’s love for each other, i’d like a slight modification to the puzzlefeeder i will be buying……

i plan to put my puzzlefeeder in the middle of the cage with each of the amorous birds on opposite sides, and, aside from the puzzles, feeds and guillotine, i would like to request a door………..

when a bird gets to solve the hardest puzzle on her/his side, not only will it release the yummiest of all treats but it will also open the door to the other side of the cage, thereby enabling said bird to rejoin his/her gf/bf in birdy bliss

some of the questions i would finally get to answer: if they're still dating and i separate them again, would they cooperate with each other to get to the feed and unlock the door faster? what if girlbird starts liking another boy on her side of the cage and boybird needs help in solving a puzzle to get to the treat and her, would she lead him to the guillotine?

c r o i s s a n t!

*concept of ill-fated lovebird cooperation test inspired by prisoner’s dilemma, please see link.
-- pyggy potamus, Nov 17 2007

But sometimes it gets cold out and birds need to eat a lot of food at once - maybe 100 sunflower seeds. Do you want them to have to push, pull, order, wait, drop, move back and forth, and manipulate the feeder for every single one of those seeds? (We are talking outdoor birds, right?)
-- phundug, Nov 17 2007

They don't just dispense one seed at a time. They drop enough for a small bird snack.

Anyhow, it's not our obligation to feed the birds. If its cold, they have their ways. Unless you want a nanny state for wild birds.
-- mylodon, Nov 18 2007

chirp, chirp, chirp!!!
-- blissmiss, Nov 18 2007

-- MaxwellBuchanan, Nov 18 2007

[potamus] I like the prisoner's dilemma approach. However, I am discovering that birds are not complex when it comes to food. If it gets too complicated, they fly away and get food elsewhere. I think it's in part because of their winged nature that they have such small brains.

With that said, it seems puzzles work best when a bird can at least peck at feed immediately. Then something happens, and they have to intelligently alter their behaviour (and hopefully not fly away)

It's more fun watching them anyways.
-- mylodon, Nov 19 2007

A Kea would clean up all your puzzles before you had finished filling them with food, then head for the kitchen. They're amazing birds with incredible intelligence - they have even solved puzzles that require co-operation between birds, and been seen playing team sports in the air.
-- neutrinos_shadow, Nov 19 2007

Well, I live in New Zealand but I haven't seen a Kea yet. I'm not sure I've seen any native wildlife yet.

It's like arriving at a party after all the beer has been drunk.
-- mylodon, Nov 19 2007

random, halfbakery