As a kid growing up we would make the trip from Miles City Montana to Washington visiting relatives in Kennewick. along the way we would always stop at the 50,000 dollar bar! a must see for us kids. Its a huge shop full of novelty items... one of my fondest memories was getting "The Drinking Bird" and woody got me one!

ever wonder who this dang thing works?

The earliest version of the device appears to have produced in China circa 1910-1930. All versions of the toy are based on a heat engine in order to function. Evaporation of a liquid from the bird's beak lowers the temperature of the head of the toy. The change in temperature creates a pressure inside the body of the bird, which causes it to perform mechanical work (dip its head). A bird that dips its head into water will keep dipping or bobbing as long as water is present. In fact, the bird works as long as its beak is damp, so the toy continues to function for a span of time even if it is removed from water.

from: Greg Nye the Science Guy