Drunk Birds Displaying Strange Behaviour In Reykjavik - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Drunk Birds Displaying Strange Behaviour In Reykjavik

Published October 24, 2019

Andie Fontaine
Main photo by
Andreas Trepte/Wikimedia Commons

Redwing thrushes have been flying low, sometimes getting in the way of pedestrians, singing loudly and brashly, and flying into windows, Fréttablaðið reports, because a great many of them are drunk.

Redwings, one of the most common species of thrush in Iceland, have descended upon Reykjavík for their autumnal feeding. Tens of thousands of these birds will fly into Reykjavík in search of their favourite treat: rowan berries (those clusters of bright orange berries you can see in many capital area trees).

This autumn apparently brought a bumper crop of rowan berries; so much so that some have begun to ferment. When redwings eat these berries, they become understandably intoxicated, and it affects their behaviour. Their singing this autumn is more on par with their springtime singing—loud, brash, but more aggressive under the influence.

In addition, they can have difficulty flying straight, and are in more of a fighting mood than usual. Despite these ill effects, these fermented berries are actually especially sought after by the redwings, so birds apparently like to get drunk.

“They’re screaming and fighting amongst themselves over these berries,” Guðmundur A. Guðmundsson, an animal ecologist at the Icelandic Institute of Natural History, told reporters. “They fight right here in town and you can witness their aggressiveness.”

Readers need not worry about the redwings; they will recover fast enough once the berries are gone, and return to normal birdish behaviour once their hangovers wear off.

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