Some birds just can't handle their alcohol. In Gilbert, Minnesota, police have been receiving reports of intoxicated behavior—bumping into trees, flying into windows—from the friends and neighbors of local robins and cedar waxwings. The big question for many was: who has been serving these birds too many beers? However, scientists quickly came forward with an explanation that has nothing to do with beers but everything to do with berries.
Anna Pidgeon, an aptly named associate professor at the University of Wisconsin's Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology, explained that the birds are becoming intoxicated from alcohol fermented inside local berries due to an early frost in the region:
It's more typical in late winter, early spring when berries that have been on branches ferment due to the yeast that's on them.
The birds becoming drunk is actually far more dangerous to them than any humans around them, according to Pidgeon:
(They) lose their coordination, they lose their natural ability to escape predators -- including poor judgment when it comes to flying.
Those who find a drunk bird near them, unable to fly, are advised to put it in a dark, safe place (like a cardboard box) until it's able to sober up. That having been said, drunkenness is low on the totem-poll of life-threatening situations for birds:
Relative to other sources of fatality of birds, alcohol poisoning isn't a huge risk. It's very short term.
The Gilbert Police Chief issued a statement saying:
It appears some birds are getting a little more 'tipsy' than normal.' ... Many birds have not migrated south, so it appears to be more prevalent than in past years. Younger birds' livers cannot handle the toxins as efficiently as more mature birds.
Hopefully the department will be able to handle this influx of public drunkenness.
Twitter was concerned for the birds...but also trying their best to stifle their laughter.
With enough time to sober up, these birds will be fine, and should continue their migration to the South posthaste. Once they get down there, they'll have some amazing stories to tell the other birds about Gilbert, Minnesota (aka Partytown, USA).