Turns out snowbirds drink more than Piña Coladas.
Flocks of cedar waxwings are returning to Texas and getting drunk on fermented berries. In Fort Worth, flocks have been acting “drunk and disorderly” according to The Drinks Business. Many are getting buzzed and flying into windows, but so far no harm no fowl.
Rachel Richter, a Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife urban wildlife biologist, explained that cedar waxwings predominantly eat berries, even those that are past their prime. When those aged berries become fermented, the birds tend to overindulge and wind up intoxicated.
Luckily, waxwings have large livers that can handle the ethanol, and won’t suffer any long-term effects from consuming the berries. Experts suspect that more sightings have been reported in 2021 because more people are working from home, where they can easily spot the drunk birds swerving and smashing into windows.
In the early 2000s, entire flocks of cedar waxwings flew into walls throughout Los Angeles. With the city looking more and more like a certain horror movie, scientists launched an investigation and eventually linked the crashing birds to the alcohol found in pepper fruit. As it turns out, when the fruit on pepper trees around the city ripened, the birds couldn’t help but gorge themselves.
Now, with similar patterns happening in Texas, waxwings are probably syncing up with fruit from another tree — or just celebrating the end of Dry January.