Why You Shouldn’t Drink and Fly

With the potential come back of the avian flu during some of the coldest winter weather in a long time, it is no surprise that alarm bells have been ringing in Romania when a flock of birds mysteriously died. However according to Veterinarians, they were just simply drunk.

A European Starling searching for berries
A European Starling searching for berries

The authorities of the Black Sea city of Constanta were alerted by startled residents on Saturday after they had found dozens of dead starlings. They feared that these starlings had been infected with bird flu which triggered mass deaths in avian populations globally in 2004 to 2006.

The head of Constanta’s veterinary authority, Romeu Lazar, said “Tests on five birds showd gizzards full of grape marc which caused their death”. Grape marc is a pulpy residue which is a by-product of making wine.

The chief said, “This also applies to two dead crows we tested. Birds are not used to alcohol but harsh weather and snow had prevented birds from finding food. Had they been able to eat some seeds, this would have diluted the poison”.

It is presumed that the grape marc consumed by the starlings had come from a nearby winery, but Lazar is uncertain as to which vineyard it came from.

During the past few weeks, there have been a series of unexplained mass bird deaths in several nations around the world such as Sweden and the United States. Hundreds of dead birds were found this month in Louisiana, as well as 5,000 dead birds in Arkansas during New Year. In Sweden, the authorities are investigating he deaths of 100 jackdaws which were all found in a street in Falköping Municipality. Experts state the possible cause of all of these mass bird deaths include hail, lightning, storms, or collisions with power lines or aeroplanes.

This is not the first time that birds have mysteriously fallen from the sky for drinking and flying. In the charming city where Mozart penned his beautiful music, 40 birds fell from the sky. The sweet songbirds which died feel to a then less publicised but an everpresent threat to birds – drinking and flying. The national veterinary authority carefully analysed these deceased birds and found scarred livers, broken necks – and no form of flu viruses.

As they connected facts like veterinary CSI, the Viennese authority realised that they had most likely eaten rotting berries. As these berries fermeneted, they produced alcohol which in turn alcohol intoxicated these poor birds. In fact, their livers showed so much damage from drinking that it actually looked as if these birds were chronic alcoholics. These tipsy birds then flew into windows around Vienna and broke their necks – thereby becoming just another statistic as an avian public-service warning against drunk flying.

As yet, the authorities around the world discovering the culprits have not released any word whether this menace to national airspace will continue. As it seems that the victimes in both Austria and Romania were frequent drinkers, one may wonder if there are any more birds out there who are setting themselves up for a crash.

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