The residents of Gilbert, Minnesota, are dealing with a most unusual problem — inebriated birds acting, well, drunk.
“Police are warning residents about a group of youthful residents unable to handle their alcohol,” wrote The Washington Post of the winged troublemakers.
“They’ve been drifting around town looking disoriented, narrowly avoiding getting hit by cars.”
The Gilbert Police Department has received several reports of birds flying into windows and cars and generally acting “confused,” Chief Ty Techar said in a statement on Tuesday.
The cause of their tipsy state? An early frost has berries fermenting earlier than usual, said the chief — and birds are eating them and getting drunk.
The chief tried to explain the phenomenon in his statement: “It appears that some birds are getting a little more ‘tipsy’ than normal. Generally, younger birds’ livers cannot handle the toxins as efficiently as more mature birds.”
He concluded, “There is no need to call law enforcement about these birds as they should sober up within a short period of time.”
The police news release ended with a tongue-in-cheek suggestion for residents to call law enforcement if they see strange avian behavior, including “angry birds laughing and giggling uncontrollably and appearing to be happy,” or “Tweety acting as if 10 feet tall and getting into confrontations with cats.”
A number of Gilbert residents commented on the chief’s Facebook post.
“Oh my! That explains all the birds bouncing off my window lately! Luckily only one has passed on!” noted one, while another posted, “I figured!! Almost rear-ended a couple just this week,” followed by laughing emojis.
Birds really can get intoxicated by eating fermented berries. California scientists performed necropsies on several flocks of cedar waxwings that had collided with hard surfaces and found that all of them had recently “gorged” on overripe berries, noted The Post.
“Flying under the influence of ethanol” had led to the birds’ demise, they concluded in study published in the Journal of Ornithology in 2012.
How to spot tipsy fowl?
“They’ll be flying kind of erratically,” Matthew Dodder, an advanced birding instructor with the Palo Alto Adult School in Palo Alto, told The Post. “We typically see them flying lower than usual through traffic. They’re just careless and they’re not looking for cars or other obstacles.”
Park ranger Sharon Stiteler told local Fox station KMSP that birds like cedar waxwings and American robins gorge on fruit like crabapples, and the sugar in those fruits can turn into alcohol as they lose moisture.
“Drunk birds are totally a thing. I’ve had to give sober rides to cedar wax wings from uptown,” she joked.
See more in the video below.