A resurfaced video of a bird who found a way to make money for their owner has gone viral again and is still delighting the internet.
The video’s latest resurgence is due to its posting Tuesday on the popular Reddit forum r/InterestingAsF**k, where u/Swerwin shared the clip to over 49,300 upvotes and 1,000 comments.
The bird, identified by u/Swerwin as a jungle myna, can be seen in the clip flying into their owner’s apartment via the window with a 20 Yuan bill in their beak. The owner opens a drawer, and the bird hops in and places the bill down on a seemingly deep pile of cash. Since the crafty bird is stealing Yuan, the currency of China, that’s likely where the footage was shot.
Unsurprisingly, the bird was very popular on Reddit.
“Where can I get me one of these birds?” u/BigNasty94 wrote in the top-rated comment with 4,800 upvotes.
Another Redditor jokingly shared a potential news item about the moneygrubbing myna.
“And in some bizarre news this morning, we talk to a banking customers that claim birds have been robbing them at the ATM,” u/AssociationNo6504 wrote. “‘I was taking out some cash for my shopping and suddenly I’m dive bombed by this angry bird. It flew off with 100s of dollars!'”
Redditor u/The2500 cracked another joke, writing, “A while back I kept getting dive bombed by someone’s stray half trained Raven. I had no idea I should have just forked over some cash.”
Though information on this specific bird is hard to come by, it’s not unheard of for birds to take money—and in fact, this can be used to help more people than just the recipient of Yuan on the wing. In 2008, Josh Klein appeared at that year’s TED conference, and showed off his “crow vending machine.”
Klein says the inspiration came from a conversation with a friend about the crows making a mess in their yard. His friend wanted to kill the crows, but Klein objected, arguing they could perhaps be trained to do something humans found useful.
“We’ve been finding more and more that crows are really intelligent. Their brains are in the same proportion as chimpanzee brains are. There’s all kinds of anecdotes for the different kinds of intelligence they have. For example, in Sweden, crows will wait for fishermen to drop lines through holes in the ice. And when the fishermen move off, the crows fly down, reel up the lines, and eat the fish or the bait. It’s pretty annoying for the fishermen,” Klein said.
This lead him to create the vending machine, where crows can put coins in and receive peanuts. Klein says he trained the crows with a four-step process. First, he put the machine in a field and spread the ground with coins and nuts so the crows would know food was in that area. Once the birds eat all the “free” nuts, they notice the nuts in the machine. The crows then fly up and get the nuts from the machine’s tray, which replenishes itself with coins and nuts.
From there, the “free” nuts are removed, leaving only the coins. The goal is for one of the now-frustrated crows to knock a coin into the slot. One bird eventually does, making the machine dispense a nut. The stage for the final step is now set—and the coins are now removed from the tray, leaving no nuts and only the coins still on the ground.
“Eventually some crow gets a bright idea: ‘Hey, there’s lots of coins lying around from the first stage,’ hops down, picks it up, drops it in the slot, and we’re off to the races. That crow enjoys a temporary monopoly on peanuts, until his friends figure out how to do it, and then there we go,” Klein said.
He argues that with this method, crows can be trained to pick up not just lost money, but other items—including garbage from sporting events, rare materials from broken electronics, and, Klein suggests, crows could even potentially be trained to do search and rescue.
Klein isn’t the only one who sees a future for search and rescue birds. In Flagstaff, Arizona, a pet raven, Shade, started out playing hide and seek with her owner, Emily Cory, KNAU-FM reports, but Cory hopes to train her to find humans lost in the woods.
And it’s not just Shade. In the late 1970s and early 80s, Business Insider reports, the Coast Guard experimented with pigeons to find people lost at sea in “Project Sea Hunt.” Though the plan worked with the birds outperforming humans, finding the target 90 percent of the time versus humans’ 50 percent success rate, technology eventually surpassed even the birds.