TNB Night Owl–Beware of Intoxicated Avians

Cedar Waxwing. Photo by Becky Matsubara.

Winter came early for the small Minnesota town of Gilbert. The frost came sooner than expected so a portion of the population hadn’t had time to travel to a warmer climate yet. It also set in motion the fermentation of berries earlier than normal. Those two events combined into a perfect storm that could come straight from a mash-up of Hitchcock and DAZED AND CONFUSED (1993).

The town of Gilbert has been hit with an epidemic of drunken birds

The local waxwings and robins have been eating extra berries to store energy for their southward migration. At the same time, the early winter has made the berries start fermenting earlier. Combined with the birds’ small sizes and their diet of only berries, the effect of the fermented fruit is much stronger than on other birds. More birds and more drunkenness leads to some rather odd behavior, including dive-bombing cars and smashing into windows.

This is not as uncommon as you think. Oregon State University released pointers on how to dissuade drunk birds from crashing into your windows, including moving bird feeders either 20 feet away or 3 feet closer to windows, purchasing ultraviolet window decals, or install netting in front of windows to act as a cushion for the intoxicated tweeters.

This happens so frequently in the Canadian Yukon that the local environmental agency has a bird drunk tank consisting of a hamster cage, blanket, and water, so birds can have a safe place to sober up (which typically takes a couple hours).

The Gilbert police department has released its own statement informing residents on how to deal with this influx of drunken birds:

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Question of the night: What is your favorite intoxicant?

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