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Fermented fruit is making birds drunkSubmitted: 10/11/2018
Story By Nina Schlosberg

Fermented fruit is making birds drunk
MINOCQUA - Birds often fly into your windows or doors. There is a strange explanation for that this time of year.

The temperature changes in the fall cause fruit to freeze and thaw. That cycle ferments berries, and birds that don't know the difference may eat them and become drunk.


Amanda Walsh, a wildlife rehabilitator at the Northwoods Animal Rehabilitation Center, knows what fall weather can do to food the animals she works with often eat. 

"When the frost hits, the freeze and thaw kind of ferments the fruit inside the berries," Walsh said. 

The problem comes when birds eat that fruit. 

"They tend to act almost drunk, disorientated, flying in circles, running into windows repetitively, things like that," Amanda Schirmer, a wildlife rehabilitator the  Animal Rehabilitation Center, said.

The wildlife rehab center in Minocqua has had animals brought to them drunk.
  
"In the time that I have been a rehabber here, we have seen it in a couple of Northern Cardinals," Walsh said.

Rehabbers diagnose the animals by feeling their joints to see if anything is wrong and checking if they are bleeding. Birds can recover from being drunk just like humans. 

"It's the same thing if you go to the bar and drink too many. It's the same feeling that they will come out of it in a short period of time," said Schirmer.

Although the idea of animals getting drunk can sound humorous to some, too much alcohol can be dangerous.

"The danger is that they do try to fly and they hit a window or hit a car and they are unable to perform the behaviors that are normal to them," said Walsh.

If you see a bird acting strange, it might have just eaten some bad fruit.

"We do get a lot of freeze-thaw activity," Walsh said.

Walsh told us the phenomenon is even more common in Minnesota. If animals in your yard are acting strange, you can call the Northwoods Rehabilitation Center. 

Related Weblinks:
Northwoods Rehabilitation Center.

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