As if we didn’t already have enough to worry about. Reports are surfacing detailing strange avian behaviors. Birds are behaving as if they might be intoxicated. That’s not a misprint. Some of America’s birds are behaving uncharacteristically, and experts believe that the behaviors indicate that the birds are actually drunk.
The Washington Post broke the story. Some birds in Minnesota are drunk. They have eaten berries that were hit by an early frost, one that has caused them to ferment.
“The Gilbert Police Department has received several reports of birds that appear to be ‘under the influence’ flying into windows, cars and acting confused,” Police Chief Ty Techar wrote in a statement.
“It appears that some birds are getting a little more ‘tipsy’ than normal. Generally, younger birds’ livers cannot handle the toxins as efficiently as more mature birds.”
“There is no need to call law enforcement about these birds as they should sober up within a short period of time,” he assured residents.
The police did ask for residents to alert them if there were any “Angry Birds laughing and giggling uncontrollably and appearing to be happy,” or if anyone saw “Tweety acting as if 10 feet tall and getting into confrontations with cats.”
The birds are flying into windows, and are unable to react in time to dodge cars. As a result, avian fatalities are up–as many on Facebook are noting.
“This explains why I have hit 7 birds with my car this week,” one reader wrote.
“I was going to say something . . . but I thought I was crazy!!!” another commented. “This has been happening to me! I know this post is a joke . . . but seriously . . . 2 birds dove into my windshield both on the way to work and on the way home . . . I was wondering what was going on.”
“There goes the chance of any bird from Northern MN ever being on the Supreme Court,” another reader wrote, mocking the broader national debate over Trump’s Supreme Court nominee.
While the idea of drunk birds is amusing to some, others are taking the phenomena seriously.
“A group of California scientists who performed necropsies on several flocks of cedar waxwings that had collided with hard surfaces found that all of them had recently gorged on overripe berries,” The Post notes. “’Flying under the influence of ethanol’ had led to the birds’ deaths, they concluded in a 2012 study published in the Journal of Ornithology.”
While the issue is certainly serious to those concerned with the well-being of birds, the drunkenness is only affecting those who gorge on berries. Many birds subsist or supplement their diets with insects. Larger raptors, common in the state, are far less likely to eat any berries.
There’s even a recovery center in Portland for drunk birds. “We get in birds into our Wildlife Care Center in the fall that are drunk on fermenting berries,” Bob Sallinger, the conservation director for the Audubon Society of Portland, wrote to The Post. “Sometimes they are picked up after crashing into windows. Others are just found disoriented on the ground. We will hold them in captivity until they sober up and then set them free.”