Romanian birds drank themselves to death on wine


Dozens of starlings had a little too much to drink in Romania. Image: Flickr / ckhowley / CC-BY-ND

In yet another mass bird die-off, dozens of starlings were found dead outside Constanta, Romania. There were worries that the Romanian bird die-off was due to Avian flu. However, tests revealed that the Romanian birds drank themselves to death.

Mass bird die-off in Romania

Dozens of starlings were found on the outskirts of Constanta, Romania, last week. Many had feared that this mass bird die-off were related to the previous reports of deaths, including more than 300 doves in Italy on Jan. 5 and hundreds of fish near Liverpool, England. Some theorized that the starlings may have died of Avian flu, which could be transmitted to the humans in the area. The dead birds were gathered up and sent to animal experts for study.

Romanian birds drank themselves to death

The initial fears of mysterious disease or chemical reason for the bird die-off ended up being unfounded. It turns out that the Romanian birds drank themselves to death. The birds had eaten musc (otherwise known as must), leftover product from making wine that was left behind the local wine-making plant. When the crushed fruit waste is left out, it ferments and become slightly alcoholic. The birds gorged on the pile of alcoholic fruit, then attempted to fly away. Instead, they died of alcohol poisoning and dropped out of the sky.

Not the first time animals got drunk

The Romanian birds that drank themselves to death overindulged, but it is not entirely unusual in nature to see animals getting drunk and surviving. Often, animals that eat fruit will make it a point to eat rotting or fermenting fruit off the ground or off trees. Usually, animals that get drunk from eating fermenting fruit don’t imbibe enough to get alcohol poisoning. The birds ended up indulging in already-fermenting fruit with a very high natural alcohol content. Unfortunately, the alcohol explanation does not explain why other mass animal die-offs are happening.

A natural quest for fermented fruit


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