Birds in Gilbert, Minnesota, have been overindulging in their alcohol of choice — fermented berries. According to the Anchorage Daily News, local police have indicated that young birds are having an especially difficult time handling their liquor. A statement from Gilbert Police Chief Ty Techar confirmed that the youthful, teenage-like birds “appear to be ‘under the influence’ [and are] flying into windows, cars, and acting confused.”
Thrushes, robins, and cedar waxwings are among the bird species that act the rowdiest after getting intoxicated. When they’re in this state, it’s common to see them doing erratic, unusual things such as flying low to the ground and not paying any attention to dangerous obstacles, including cars. As one person commented on the Gilbert Police Department’s Facebook page, “this explains why I hit 7 birds with my car this week.”
This gang of drunk birds is expected to sober up soon, but there are likely to be several casualties before that happens.
Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 29 humans are killed every day in the U.S. due to a drunk driving accident. Much like those people, birds can become so intoxicated that they become unable to make wise decisions. In fact, Penn Live reported that this problem can get so out of hand that temporary ‘drunk tanks’ are opened in Portland, Oregon, and throughout Canada’s Yukon Territory to help intoxicated birds to sober up. Perhaps this is something that Gilbert city officials should look into, as well, to help reduce bird accidents and untimely deaths.
Birds need to fill up on as much fat as possible before beginning their long migration. This year, an early frost helped berries ferment much faster than usual in Gilbert. When you put the two things together, you have the perfect recipe for an alcoholic disaster. Yet at the same time, there’s enough evidence of birds purposefully using the elements to their advantage – and for fun – that it’s within the realm of possibility that at least some of these birds are overindulging on purpose.
PBS indicated that crows in Japan and in California have learned to save themselves a lot of labor by using cars to crack open walnuts. Proving once again that crows are highly intelligent, a viral video shows one repeatedly using a bottle cap to sled down the side of a snow-covered roof. This presents a prime example of birds using the elements to have fun.
Pigeons have also been spotted enjoying themselves with items designed by humans. In one instance, an enterprising pigeon hopped on top of a turbine vent and used it as a makeshift carnival ride.
We’ll probably never know for sure whether or not some of the birds in Minnesota are getting drunk on purpose, but one thing is certain — if you live in that area, you should watch out for intoxicated flyers.