Boozy birds pay the price for 'flying high'

Nov 03, 2012
This file photo shows a blackbird foraging for food on railway tracks. A bizarre spate of young blackbird deaths at a school in England was likely caused by the feathered teens getting drunk on fermented berries, crashing mid-air and falling from the sky, according to vets.

A bizarre spate of young blackbird deaths at a school in England was likely caused by the feathered teens getting drunk on fermented berries, crashing mid-air and falling from the sky, according to vets.

Police and animal experts were called in after more than a dozen birds were found dead at a primary school in Cumbria last August—many of them sporting serious injuries.

One of the juvenile was found alive but appeared "drunk", pressing its wings into the ground to steady itself and trying to stay upright by leaning against the walls of the enclosure it was taken to.

Foul play was initially suspected, but post-mortem examinations ruled out a murder spree or diseases like .

Instead, the examiners found berries in the birds' stomachs that had a smell of fermentation, said a report in the Group journal Veterinary Record.

Further toxicological test found high levels of pure alcohol or ethanol in the liver of one of the birds.

"Some of the birds had died from , possibly related to in-flight collisions secondary to ," wrote investigators from the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency.

"Unsteadiness on the feet, a tendency to fall over and losing the ability to steer is considerably more of a problem when life is normally spent in trees or in the air," added a media statement.

The lone survivor made a full recovery and was released back into the wild after sleeping off its hangover.

Explore further: No-take marine reserves a no-win for seahorses

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Bad news for us, or just for the birds?

Jan 11, 2011

Roughly 5,000 dead and dying blackbirds fell from the Arkansas sky on New Year's Eve. That mysterious event was followed by the appearance of about 500 dead birds along a Louisiana highway and additional bird-falls in Kentucky, ...

New mass death of birds in Sweden

Jan 05, 2011

In a week that saw unexplained massive bird deaths in the southern United States, up to 100 birds were found lying in a snow-covered street in Sweden Wednesday, officials said. ...

Recommended for you

An uphill climb for mountain species?

12 hours ago

A recently published paper provides a history of scientific research on mountain ecosystems, looks at the issues threatening wildlife in these systems, and sets an agenda for biodiversity conservation throughout ...

Extinctions during human era worse than thought

14 hours ago

It's hard to comprehend how bad the current rate of species extinction around the world has become without knowing what it was before people came along. The newest estimate is that the pre-human rate was ...

Robotics to combat slimy pest

17 hours ago

One hundred years after they arrived in a sack of grain, white Italian snails are the target of beleaguered South Australian farmers who have joined forces with University of Sydney robotics experts to eradicate ...

Migratory fish scale to new heights

18 hours ago

WA scientists are the first to observe and document juvenile trout minnow (Galaxias truttaceus Valenciennes 1846) successfully negotiating a vertical weir wall by modifying their swimming technique to 'climb' ...

User comments : 0