The underage-drinkers have Four Loco. The juvenile birds have fermented berries.
Yes, you read that correctly.
A new article published in Veterinary Record reveals that young birds can get “drunk” on fermented berries and exhibit symptoms familiar to people who drink too much.
The authors of the article were called to a primary school in Cumbria (northwest England) last summer after the bodies of 12 young blackbirds were found.
Another blackbird was discovered alive but “unwell,” and two more dead birds were found later.
Foul play was suspected since some of the birds had clearly been injured. The police were called.
They performed post mortem exams – yes, bird autopsies – and conducted tests to rule out lethal infections.
The one commonality: Berries in the bird guts.
The authors determined the birds had ingested berries from rowan trees. The berries aren’t normally considered poisonous to wild birds. But the berries in the birds’ bellies smelled as if they were fermenting, according to the article.
Tissue samples from three dead birds revealed high levels of pure alcohol in one bird.
“Staff at the wildlife rescue centre to which the live bird was sent also reported that it had been unsteady on its feet and appeared ‘drunk,’” according to the article news release. “The bird had had to place its wings on the ground to steady itself, and had leant against the walls of its enclosure to keep upright, they said. After two days the bird fully recovered and was released back into the wild.”
The authors suspect all of the dead birds became intoxicated on fermented berries.
But here’s where it gets really good.
Those injuries believed to be the result of foul play? Caused by mid-air collisions of drunk birds.
You can’t make this stuff up.