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Old 11-21-2010, 09:43 AM   #1
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http://discovermagazine.com/2006/feb/drunk-birds/?searchterm=birds


A New Source of Terror: Drunk Birds

Avian flu or flying under the influence?
by Amos Kenigsberg
published online February 8, 2006
Call off the alarm, Austria. Those sweet songbirds that recently died in Vienna did not perish from avian flu. No, they fell victim to a less publicized but everpresent threat to birds: drinking and flying.
Connecting facts like a real-life episode of CSI, the authority realized that the birds had most likely eaten rotting berries, which produced alcohol as they fermented and thereby intoxicated the avians. (The birds' livers showed so much damage from drinking that "they looked like they were chronic alcoholics", said Sonja Wehsely, a spokesperson for Vienna's veterinary authority.) The tipsy bootlegger birds then flew into windows and broke their necks, becoming just another statistic in an avian public-service warning against drunk flying.

I have heard of birds getting drunk on berries before, and have seen articles saying it is true, and others that it is apocryphal, but this is the first I've seen that actually did autopsies showing alcoholic liver disease in our avian friends. This implies more than occasional, accidental consumption of fermented berries.

Have you had experience with alcoholic birds that you'd like to share with us?
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Old 11-21-2010, 09:58 AM   #2
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No story, sorry, but I've heard of it before as well. I vaguely remember a robin acting strangely and my dad telling me about it eating fermented berries. It is so vague I can't remember much about its behavior.

Sad to hear that it is not just occasional as it caused liver damage! At least it seems more than anecdotal now.

I look forward to others sharing their stories.
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Old 11-21-2010, 10:38 AM   #3
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Just heard of a story (only a few days ago) about a parakeet.....
Great great grandpa's loved the sauce. He'd come flying in right up to a glass of whiskey while the boys were playing poker, rest one set of talons upon it, take a few swigs and then commence into a sneezing frenzy only to go back and do it all over again.. They should have put a stop to it but you know how guys like to watch such things...
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Old 11-21-2010, 10:44 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by havalotta View Post
...take a few swigs and then commence into a sneezing frenzy only to go back and do it all over again...
You paint quite a picture. I had to laugh.

Quote:
Originally Posted by havalotta View Post
They should have put a stop to it but you know how guys like to watch such things...
You are right, they should've put a stop to it, but I have to admit it must've been rather funny.
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Old 11-23-2010, 09:27 PM   #5
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That reminds me of when I was a kid. I had a friend who had a couple of pet ducks. One of her uncles liked to feed them bread soaked in brandy or some other alcoholic beverage (it was a long time ago, I don't remember what it was). They would get really unsteady on their feet. I remember worrying that they would drown.
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Old 11-23-2010, 10:26 PM   #6
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I make wine, and once you bottle the stuff, you have the half fermented fruit left. I usually throw it on the compost, but occasionally some of the critters find it before it loses its punch. Dad has reported some of his goats having new dance moves, and some birds acting a little loopy after I tossed the fruit.
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Old 11-24-2010, 12:03 AM   #7
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Quote:
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One of her uncles liked to feed them bread soaked in brandy or some other alcoholic beverage
Why on earth? People are weird sometimes.
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Old 11-24-2010, 06:47 AM   #8
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As a kid on our farm 50+ years ago, I can recall hearing about grouse exhibiting drunken behavior...
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Old 11-25-2010, 09:33 PM   #9
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Cedar Waxwings are known to get pretty tipsy after feeding on fruit that are past their prime! I haven't witnessed it myself, although I was shocked when I found out they were feeding on Chinaberries near my place. I'd heard those were toxic. But apparently not for them!
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Old 11-26-2010, 06:51 PM   #10
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Pokeberries are toxic for people but not for birds. It must have to do with how our bodies metabolize the toxic compounds.
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