Birds are getting drunk on fermented berries and crashing into cars

Faith Castro
October 5, 2018

Police in a small northern Minnesota community have been taking some odd calls about birds that seem to be intoxicated.

Gilbert Police chief Ty Techer told KMSP the phenomenon of the drunk birds has been labeled "berry benders" due to their fermented food source.

Also, younger birds' livers can not handle the fermented berries as well as older birds.

In comments responding to the statement on Facebook, Gilbert residents shared stories of erratic bird behavior.

Minnesota park ranger Sharon Stiteler told fox she'd had a couple of times when she had to take care of "tipsy" birds.

However, once they rehydrate and have a bird equivalent of a greasy breakfast, the feather fellows perk up and fly away unharmed.

Apparently, the birds of Gilbert, Minn., can't handle their liquor.

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"There is no need to call law enforcement about these birds as they should sober up within a short period of time", he added.

"The look that says, "Look man, just turn off the lights and leave (bleep) me alone".

While the authorities are clearly having a giggle, there is reason to be concerned on the birds' behalf. "Sometimes they are picked up after crashing into windows". "Flying under the influence of ethanol" had led to the birds' deaths, they concluded in a 2012 study published in the Journal of Ornithology.

Similar finds were made in 2011 in Cumbria, England, after the bodies of 12 common blackbirds appeared near a primary school. Instead, it's the local bird population. Police initially suspected, ahem, fowl play, but post-mortem examinations found berries in the birds' gastrointestinal tracts and high alcohol levels in a liver sample, according to National Geographic's Owen, suggesting that fermented fruits played a role in their deaths.

Because intoxicated birds also have a tendency of smashing into things, the Audubon Society recommends putting decals on windows and other large reflective surfaces.

"They just get sloppy and clumsy", Dodder said. "We will hold them in captivity until they sober up and then set them free".

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