‘A bit horrifying’: the Melbourne cockatoo dropping pot plants from four storeys up

<span>Photograph: Darren England/AAP</span>
Photograph: Darren England/AAP

“Here comes another one!”

A passerby on Melbourne’s Flinders Lane yells as a third pot plant hurtles through the air, landing on a cafe sunshade before ricocheting on to a parked truck, eventually lying strewn along the footpath with the others.

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A sulphur-crested cockatoo perched on the ledge of a fourth-storey balcony launches a fourth pot from its beak, before flying from the scene.

The video capturing the incident on Monday morning was shared by social media page Brown Cardigan, garnering more than 1.5m views across platforms.

Paul Dennis, who lives in the apartment building, said he was alerted to the incident by his electrician, who almost had a pot plant land on his head.

Dennis had never seen the cockatoos throw plants before. He asked his electrician: “Are you making this up mate?”

Now it has become “the butt of all jokes in the apartment block,” Dennis said.

It is not the first time urban residents have come into conflict with cockatoos. In Sydney, the birds learned to open wheelie bins despite residents leaving bricks on top of them, in a phenomenon researchers have called an “interspecies innovation arms race”.

Sean Dooley, the national public affairs manager at Birdlife Australia, said he’s never seen a cockatoo drop a pot plant before, but the birds have been known to drop sticks or roofing material “they’ve been munching on” off ledges of buildings.

“You can’t really ascribe a malicious intent to them, but they do seem to fit the category of getting up to mischief,” Dooley said.

Dennis said the problem stems from people feeding them.

Dooley said the bird could have been looking for food and expressing its displeasure there was none around, but he suspects “they’re just exploring surrounds and making a game of it”.

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“The thing about cockatoos and sulphur-crested cockatoos … because they feed on a rich diet of seeds and nuts, they get their nutritional load very quickly during the day so they have a lot of time to occupy,” he said.

“Because they’re really intelligent birds they do that through exploring their environment.”

Dooley said cockatoos are known to “play” in the human sense of the word, but it could occasionally be destructive

“Like, pretty much everyone, I found it pretty hilarious. But, you know, then you see how high those plants are falling down, they could seriously injure or kill somebody.

“It’s a bit horrifying to watch, but it’s almost like the bird version of Jackass. You sort of want to look away, but you’re kind of intrigued as to what’s going to happen.

“Who knows the mind of a cockatoo?”