How drinking bird toys work science experiment : Fizzics Education

How drinking bird toys work

How drinking bird toys work

Follow FizzicsEd 150 Science Experiments:

You will need:

A drinking bird toy, this can be brought form our online store.

Drinking bird science experiment - materials needed
1 Drinking bird science experiment - wet drinking bird ready to go

Fill a glass with cold water and place the drinking bird close to the bird so that the bird’s legs are a little higher than the glass.

2 Drinking bird science experiment - dunking the bird into the water

Place the head into the water and make sure it gets completely wet.

3 Drinking bird science experiment - drinking bird starting to bend over

Let go of the drinking bird and it will start bobbing up and down.

4 Drinking bird science experiment - drinking bird starting to bend over

If it doesn’t, adjust the neck of the bird up and down through the collar.

5 Drinking bird science experiment - drinking bird moving up and down

This toy tends to work best at about 25 degrees Celsius

Why Does This Happen?

Hands up who likes the Simpsons! Some people might recognise the scene. “It’s drinking the water!” Well, how does it work then?

The water evaporates from the head. This evaporation lowers the temperature of the glass head; think of when you’ve got a wet head on a cold windy day. The temperature drop causes some of the Methylene chloride vapour in the head to condense, a bit like steam condensing on a cold mirror surface. The lower temperature and condensation together causes the pressure to drop within the head.

The pressure difference between the head and base causes the liquid to be pushed up from the base. As liquid flows into the head, the bird becomes top-heavy and tips over. When the bird tips over, the bottom end of the neck tube rises above the surface of the liquid. A bubble of vapour rises up the tube through this gap, displacing liquid as it goes (the liquid has to go somewhere).

Finally, the liquid flows back to the bottom bulb, and vapour pressure equalizes between the top and bottom bulbs. The weight of the liquid in the bottom bulb restores the bird to its vertical position.

Repeat, repeat, repeat!

Variables to test

More on variables here

  • What happens if you operate the drinking bird in iced water?
  • What happens if there is a fan blowing across the head of the drinking bird toy?

Learn more!


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