Photo credit Sharon Stiteler
GILBERT, Minn. (KMSP) - Some rambunctious birds are getting a reputation in northern Minnesota.
Police in Gilbert are responding to reports of birds flying under the influence – and it turns out it’s not an isolated incident.
There are angry birds and scary birds, but have you ever heard of drunk birds?
About an hour north of Duluth on the Iron Range, police say they've gotten about a half dozen reports of birds that appear to be "under the influence," flying into windows and cars, and acting confused.
The department believes the birds are getting tipsy from eating fermented berries caused by an early frost. Many birds haven't migrated south for the winter yet, so the problem seems to be more widespread than in previous years.
"We've sort of nicknamed it ‘berry benders’ now that these birds are on a berry bender,” said Chief Ty Techer with Gilbert Police. “The young birds’ livers can't process it as well; they seem to be loopier, for lack of a better term."
Park ranger Sharon Stiteler says birds like cedar waxwings and American robins feast 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.”
Stiteler even blogged about an encounter she had with an intoxicated waxwing trying to fly into the ground a few years ago. She made a detox box so the bombed bird could sleep off its stupor before setting it free.
"Much like your drunk friend who sleeps on the couch, it threw up and felt better… I gave it some carbs and some water and it did the flight of shame home," she said.
Stitler said that while there are no laws against our feathered friends taking to the skies while intoxicated, they are more vulnerable to predators. So that’s at least one reason not to drink and fly.
"It’s something that's happened even before humans. If you see it happening, try putting it in a box in a dark place where it can kind of sleep things off."