Don't drink and fly: Fermented fruit gives some birds alcohol buzz, wildlife officials warn

As warmer weather arrives, the sounds of chirping birds fill the spring air. If you get lost in their singing, it might be the booze talking.

ATLANTA – Don't drink and fly, says Georgia wildlife officials to birds.

As warmer weather arrives, the sound of chirping birds fills the spring air. If you get lost in their singing, it might be the booze talking. 

Among the likely culprits bellying up are fruit-eating birds, like the cedar waxwings and American robins. According to the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division, they often eat fruit that has started to rot and ferment.

For all those who missed Beer Brewing 101: a byproduct of fermentation is the production of alcohol.


"The consumption of these fermented fruits can cause the birds to lose much of their coordination and capacity to fly," the agency said in a social medal post on Wednesday. "This can cause them to crash into windows and other obstacles."

Sadly, the intoxicated birds can also die directly from alcohol poisoning if they ingest enough of the fermented fruit, wildlife officials add. 

It's not just fermenting fruit that has birds seeing double. Another possible cause for their "drunken flying" is that the birds have eaten Nandina berries, also known as heavenly bamboo or sacred bamboo. 

According to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, this exotic invasive plant is used in landscaping and draws cyanide from the soil, often depositing lethal doses in its bright red fruit.

"Learn from our feathered friends," the agency said. "Consume fruits responsibly."