Drunk Birds?! Intoxicating Berries in Texas.

Drunk Birds?! Why is this bird acting so strange?

Believe it or not, animals – and especially birds – can get drunk on berries. Occasionally, with the right seasonal conditions, berries will ferment. This generally occurs after a freeze. When a hungry bird runs into a fermented berry, they make friends and odd things can occur. 

Fermented berries + Hungry birds = Intoxication

There are lots of stories of critters and birds acting funny. For an extreme version, I highly recommend this video of drunk African animals. But here in Central Texas, we have our fair share of tipsy birds. Common berries that can ferment in Texas include: Ilex (Yaupons with those bright red berries) and China Berries (look at the pictures). 

What does a drunk bird look like?

They stumble around and sing songs from the 80s while talking about “the glory days of high school football”. Either that or they fly a little funny, run into stuff and their songs are a bit garbled. There are even some unfortunate stories of birds overdoing it and getting themselves hurt. 

What do I do if I find a drunk bird? 

Treat them like you would a friend (don’t draw on them with a sharpie). If they are in a safe place, then leave them alone. If they are in danger of becoming a “well sauced treat” for a cat or some other predator, then use a towel to pick them up gently and put them in a safe dark place so that they don’t hurt themselves. They will sober up pretty quickly and you can let them loose. 

Common berries in Texas include yaupons (those little red berries) or china berries (see the picture). These berries are not good for humans and will make you sick (so don’t get any ideas), but for some reason they have a different effect on birds.