Drunken Blackbirds in England Die Due to Fermented Berries
By Vittorio Hernandez | November 5, 2012 10:31 AM EST
A dozen young blackbirds were found dead at a school playground in Cumbria, England. An investigation indicated that the avian creatures suffered from alcohol poisoning due the birds eating fermented berries.
Most of the birds have trauma injuries sustained in flight caused by intoxication. A post-mortem analysis by the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency disclosed that one of the winged creatures had a large amount of pure alcohol or ethanol in its liver.
The researchers said the blackbirds ate berries from a nearby rowan tree. They said that berries found on the ground were damaged and vulnerable to yeast infestation which caused fermentation, the chemical process of sugar breaking down into alcohol, and eventually it led to alcohol production.
One young blackbird which survived had symptoms of drunkenness. The researchers observed the creature pressing its wings into the ground to steady itself and trying to stay upright by leaning against the walks of an enclosure where it was kept for recovery. It was released after two weeks.
The scientists ruled out foul play or ailments such as bird flu.
Tim Harrison, development officer of the British Trust for Ornithology's Garden Birdwatch, told BBC that generally, birds with a lot of fruit in their diet are more efficient at metabolising alcohol and better adapted at eating fruit with higher alcohol concentrations. However, he said there are anecdotal reports of birds that act drunk, although these are very rare instances.
A similar incident was recorded in 199 when a group of redwings fed on holly berries that were fermented after a frost. Gizzard samples taken from the redwings yielded high levels of alcohol content.
To contact the editor, e-mail:
Most Popular Slideshows
- Flight MH17 Attack: Russians Claim 'Putin A Terrorist,' Memorial at Dutch Embassy Overflows [PHOTOS]
- Typhoon Rammasun Claims 18 Lives in China, Incurs $4.32B Losses (PHOTOS)
- Ellen DeGeneres Caught Cheating with Mutual Friend Before Portia de Rossi’s Rehab – Reports [PHOTOS]
- Malaysia Airlines MH17: Vital Black Boxes Finally Land in Hands of Malaysian Authorities, Rebels Announce Ceasefire (PHOTOS/VIDEOS)
Join the Conversation
- Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Apps Leak Online, Five Fresh Features to Expect from the Android Smartphone
- Moto 360 Price Speculations, Key Features, Strategic Release Date, Design: A Watch That is More Than Just Time
- Windows Phone 8.1 Update Rollout: 20 Nokia Lumia Phones Eligible and 13 New Features to be Added
- Three New Moto G Successors Spotted in FCC Document Dubbed Moto G2, Moto M and More --Reports
- iPad Air 2 Release Date Will Skip IGZO Panel; To Rollout with Super-Slim iPad Mini Air
- Upcoming iPad Mini 3 Could be 30% Thinner and Likely be Called iPad Mini Air; Apple Q3 Results Show 9% Decrease in iPad Sales
- Sony Xperia M2 vs. Moto G – Specifications, Features and Price Showdown