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Robins Drunk on Berries

Dear Bird Folks,

Last week you wrote about wintering robins eating berries. A guy at work told me that birds can get drunk from eating berries. I see birds eating berries all the time and they aren’t drunk. What’s up?”

– Jack, Sandwich


Hi Jack,

It may be a first, but the guy at work is right this time. Birds sure do get drunk on berries. I’m not talking a little tipsy here, I’m talking rip-roaring, frat party drunk. As we’ve talked about, robins and other birds feed on berries in the winter months when they can’t find worms or insects. Most of the time berries are fine, but sometimes the weather conditions cause the berries to ferment and the birds that eat them can get wasted big time.

It always starts the same way. One robin finds a bush full of bad berries to feed on and ends up getting a little silly. Then a few of his friends join in and soon you have a whole flock walking around on the ground too drunk to fly. Next you hear lots of loud singing, with words that you can hardly understand. Then usually an argument breaks out over who found the biggest worm last summer or has the reddest breast. Finally, two robins end up in an all-out fight, while all the others just roll their eyes and think, “Rookies, can’t hold their berries.”

If you do have a flock of robins in your yard that get sloshed on some berries, there isn’t much you can do for them. Just like with people, the effects will eventually wear off. Sure, they’ll be a bit embarrassed about what they did and said, but most of the other robins will understand that it was just the berries talking and let it go at that. So, Jack, if you see some drunk robins, just stand back and watch he show. I guess you could run out with about 20 tiny cups of black coffee, but that could keep them up singing all night and who needs that.