The Drinking Bird has been a novelty of interest and intrigue. Given a cup of liquid, the Drinking Bird will endlessly drink away until liquid can no longer be reached. In this experiment, Scientific AmeriKen wishes to look into the effect of a liquid vastly different than water - ethanol. The effects of ethanol on humans is well known and Scientific AmeriKen has previously explored its effects on simple organisms (click here), however its effect on drinking birds has not. Will ethanol be appreciated or will the drinking bird simply turn his nose - the answer will be discovered.





Evaporation provides the energetic fuel that drives drinking bird. The hypothesis of this experiment is that ethanol, having a quicker rate of evaporation than water, will cause the drinking bird to drink faster. Thus it is expected that the more alcohol, the better, as far as drinking bird is concerned.

Needed for this experiment includes one drinking bird, ethanol (100%/200 proof), A cup of correct size for drinking bird to touch water with beak and return, and a stop watch. To initiate each condition, the drinking bird's head was submerged in the liquid for 2 seconds and then patted dry. The drinking bird was then set at a proper distance away from glass and allowed to sit for 3 minutes to equilibrate to the condition. Time measurement starts at the point the beak leaves the water to the point where the beak again contacts the water.

At least 4 measurements were made at each alcohol percentage.

In the above figure diamonds represent the average time for the given percentage of alcohol. The general trend is a decrease in the time as alcohol percentage increases. Even 1% alcohol causes a large reduction in the rate of Drinking Bird - although there is little difference between 5-40%. Also not shown was the effect of temperature on Drinking Bird. The water used was cold/room temperature, however when hot water was used the rate averaged 30 seconds.

The results of the experimentation support the hypothesis of this experiment. It is safe to say that Drinking Bird drinks alcohol faster than water. In a direct comparison, Drinking bird will drink 100% ethanol at a rate nearly 6 times faster than regular water. Such heavy drinking is not without its hazards - overnight consumption of alcohol resulted in the loss of some of the cloth around Drinking Bird's beak in other experiments. It is also noted that temperature has a dramatic effect on rate. Faucet hot water cuts the drinking rate in half - this used in conjunction with alcohol (i.e. warm sake) could create an endless stream of drinking. Finally, could Drinking Bird be used to determine the alcohol percentage of an unknown liquid? Perhaps, but not as the system is set up - at this point it is not known what effects other ingredients of an alcoholic beverage would have on Drinking Bird. Additionally, the range between 0-20% alcohol seems to have similar results - however, despite the negatives - Drinking Bird would certainly give it a try.

So how does Drinking Bird work? The patent information can be viewed here. However, the Drinking Bird works by way of the Ideal Gas Law. The law states that as pressure increases temperature increases and conversely temperature decrease pressure decreases. So the water on the top of drinking bird's head is constantly evaporating - to do so it draws energy from the surface - causing the top bulb of drinking bird to cool. The colder temperature inside the top bulb causes a drop in pressure, the lower pressure, acting like a vacuum, sucks up the liquid from the bottom bulb. Eventually the weight of this liquid causes the bird to crash forward to grab another drink of water. Falling downward allows the pressure to return, the liquid to fall back, and the bird to return from drinking. The cycle will continue while there is water for drinking bird to keep his head wet.
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