We’ve all heard of birds, such as crows collecting coins. But, this story surprised even our veteran bird experts. A popular story has been circulating on the web about a car wash where birds were doing more business that customers. As it turns out the original email was a bit embellished, but according to Snopes.com the main story is true.
Bill Dougherty, of Magic Wand Inc., installs and maintains the machines used at coin operated facilities. After installing one in Fredericksburg, Virginia, he discovered the car wash machine kept coming up short. He didn’t want to believe his trusted employees were stealing, but the machines could only be accessed by keys. So, he set up a surveillance camera and caught the thieves in the act.
As it turns out, his employees were innocent. The suspects were European Starlings. You can see the birds had to actually get inside the machines. They worked in tandem with one going in and the other grabbing the coins and taking off. The original email reported that the surveillance mission paid off when $4,000 in stolen coins was found on the roof. Turns out that part is a bit of an exaggeration. The car wash operator never found a big stash, but he did say that it was quite common to find a few hundred quarters on the ground some mornings.
Upon seeing the story, Elaine Cole, of Cole’s Wild Bird Products said she had never heard of anything like it, though she knew certain species of birds like crows are attracted to shiny objects. She advises “keep your quarters out of sight lest you be robbed at beak point by that notorious Starling gang!” Richard Cole, the founder of Cole’s Wild Bird Products remarked, “wouldn’t it be great if we could ask them why?”