A man in Vestby, south of Oslo, found what he thought were six ill birds in his garden last week, reports state broadcaster NRK. After he determined that they couldn’t fly, had trouble walking, lost their balance and remained lying on the ground, he collected them into a box and took them to a local veterinary clinic. The diagnosis: drunkeness caused by eating old rognebær, hard bitter red berries that had fermented on the tree.
“They were so dizzy, some just lying on their sides, and it was clear they were influenced by something,” veterinarian Ingild Mæhle told state broadcaster after examining the skærer (magpies).”Since they were found under a rognebær tree, it was most probable they’d eaten old berries that had fermented, and they simply became intoxicated.”
She said that birds often eat berries and fruit in mid-winter that has fermented. Some still manage to fly but can crash into windows and walls. Others just pass out for awhile, rather like people who’ve had too much alcohol to drink.
“If they’re left to lie on the ground, they can quickly freeze or be killed by cats or other animals,” Mæhle said. One of her colleagues took them home in a locked cat box and gave them water and seed. When they’d perked up the next morning, she simply opened the cat box door and they all flew off.