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Migratory birds getting drunk on fermented berries in Texas

Feb. 2 (UPI) -- A species of bird making its seasonal return to North Texas is drawing attention from neighbors who witnessed the avians engaging in an unusual behavior -- getting drunk on fermented berries.

Residents in the Fort Worth area said the cedar waxwings return to North Texas around this time of year, but they have noticed this time around that the birds are frequently seen acting disoriented and flying into windows after eating fermented berries.

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"Because they eat predominantly berries, sometimes they eat berries that have fermented and are a little bit past their prime," Rachel Richter, an urban wildlife biologist with the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife, told WFAA-TV. "Sometimes they tend to overindulge a little bit, which can get them intoxicated."

Richter said cases of cedar waxwings getting intoxicated from fermented berries are actually pretty common. She said an increase in reports this year is likely the result of COVID-19 keeping people at home during the day, when the birds are more active.

"Maybe this year people are staying home more so they're able to see them more," she said.

Cedar waxwings are generally found in Texas from late December until April. Experts said the birds have large livers that can detoxify the ethanol and prevent them from suffering any long-term ill effects from fermented berries.

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