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

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.

Bohemian waxwing birds are drunk
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'Drunk' birds in Canada get sober after binging on berries, but it's no joke
A Bohemian waxwing eats a mountain ash berry on Wednesday, December 18, 2013, in Anchorage, Alaska. (Erik Hill/Anchorage Daily News/MCT via Getty Images)
A Bohemian Waxwing (Bombycilla garrulus) sits on a branch on January 25, 2013 near Mallnow, eastern Germany. The Bohemian Waxwing breeds in coniferous forests throughout the most northern parts of Europe, Asia and western North America. AFP PHOTO / PATRICK PLEUL GERMANY OUT (Photo credit should read PATRICK PLEUL/AFP/Getty Images)
Bohemian Waxwing. (Photo By: MyLoupe/UIG Via Getty Images)
Bohemian Waxwings. (Photo By: MyLoupe/UIG Via Getty Images)
[UNVERIFIED CONTENT] Bohemian waxwing Bombycilla garrulus pretty bird in winter. Snowflakes falling in a blue background.
UNITED KINGDOM - SEPTEMBER 16: Bohemian chatterer, Ampelis garrulus, Bohemian waxwing, Bombycilla garrulus. Handcoloured copperplate engraving by George Graves from British Ornithology' 1811. Graves was a bookseller publisher artist engraver and colorist and worked on botanical and ornithological books. ' (Photo by Florilegius/SSPL/Getty Images)
Bohemian Waxwing (Bombycilla garrulus)
Bohemian Waxwing (Hilversum, The Netherlands)

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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