Drunken birds crash land on boozy berries
Boozed-up birds are falling from the sky in Canada after getting drunk on frost-fermented berries.
Wildlife officials have been called upon in the Yukon to help sobre up flocks of Bohemian waxwings after a number of crash landings.
According to reports by The Toronto Star, a number of residents reported seeing several birds feasting on the berries of Mountain Ash trees before flying off erratically and crashing into windows.
Unable to fly in a straight line, officials have taken to detaining the inebriated birds in makeshift “drunk tanks”, essentially hamster cages, until the effects have worn off.
The species is renowned for their especially large livers capable, however an increased need to fill up on fruit ahead of the long winter can cause the birds to overindulge.
Coupled with several thaws ahead of the winter freeze, making the fermented berries more edible, the birds’ chances of becoming intoxicated has been increased.
Derek Matthews, chair of the Vancouver Avian Research Centre, told the National Post: “There are many, many records of waxwings drinking themselves almost to death by eating more fermenting berries than their bodies can handle. They either die from ruptured livers, or by flying quasi-drunkenly into plate-glass windows.”
It is not unknown for birds and other animals to exhibit drunkenness after eating fermented fruit.
According to the Journal of Ornithology, an entire flock of cedar waxwings crashed to their deaths in Los Angeles in 2006 and 2007 after gorging on fermented berries.
In Africa, stories and videos about about elephants and other animals becoming intoxicated after eating fermented marula fruit lying on the ground are common.
However, this effect has been discredited by experts, who argue that an elephant would need to ingest about half a gallon of pure alcohol – equivalent to about 1,400 marula fruit – before it became drunk.