'Drunk' birds in Canada get sober after binging on berries, but it's no joke

Drunk Canadian Birds Get Sober
Drunk Canadian Birds Get Sober

It may sound like a joke, but there's nothing funny about these poor tipsy birds.

While other birds are flying to warmer weather for the upcoming winter months, the Bohemian waxwings are taking advantage of Canada's berries. The problem? The fruit is intoxicating them.

A recent frost in the Yukon has caused mountain ash berries, a waxwing favorite, to ferment. After consuming the berries, the birds become drunk and have a difficult time controlling themselves while in-flight and avoiding obstacles.

Derek Matthews, chair of the Vancouver Avian Research Centre, told the National Post, "There are many, many records of waxwings drinking themselves almost to death "

Several have died or been injured after flying into windows and walls. The animal health unit of Environment Yukon, an organization that oversees nature and wildlife in the territory, has started a drunk tanks of sorts for the birds. Any birds exhibiting signs of intoxication are put into a hamster cage to prevent them from harming themselves, the National Post reports.

They're given some time to sober up (in other words, they sleep it off) and are then released back into the wild. If a bird requires more help, they're transferred to the Yukon Wildlife Preserve for avian "rehab."

A 2012 study found waxwings have a larger than normal liver, allowing a higher tolerance of fermented berries. Eventually, even their livers become overwhelmed with ethanol from the fruit, and they become drunk.

This generally happens every year in the Yukon during November and December.

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