In fact, they have earned their name by acting as the primary consumers (and dispensers) of juniper and cedar … We didn’t know where he had come from before he fell to the ground. Sure enough, after two days in the ‘drunk tank’ – after some anti-inflammatories, lots of fluids, and lots of free berries and worms from us, he started acting like a wild bird, completely scared of us and fluttering around and flying just like a normal wild bird. There was just sort of an odd affect about him. A group of Cedar Waxwings weren’t so lucky. I’m glad the woman was concerned enough to bring him to us. But given his behavior, we didn’t think that was the case. Since these birds are huge berry eaters, and some berries at this time in the year have fermented as they sit on the bush, drunk waxwings are an interesting occurrence. When she brought him to me, perched on her finger, I thought he had a sort of ‘faraway’ look about him – like he wasn’t entirely present. It is a native of North and Central America, breeding in open wooded areas in southern Canada and wintering in the southern half of the United States, Central America, and the far northwest of South … He was much, much more ‘still’ than other concussed birds I’ve treated, and there was just something odd about the way he looked. Some research has shown this alcohol level to be as high as 3.8%, approximately the same as a beer. The woman who brought the waxwing in said he seemed “tame.” He just sat on her finger and wouldn’t move, and that’s what prompted her to call the clinic. A cedar waxwing partaking of berries from a mountain ash tree in Alberta, Canada (Image: Mike Sturk/Rex Features) After overindulging in berries, flocks of cedar waxwings flew drunkenly to their doom. other Waxwings. I immediately identified it as a Cedar Waxwing. With their diets being comprised of over 80% fruits and berries of nearly all shapes and sizes, it’s fair to say that Cedar Waxwings absolutely love their fruit. Mike Cerio founded Sweet-Seed in 2012 with little more than a hunch that other wild bird admirers would, if given the alternative, feed their birds nectars and feeds built around what was being actively sought out by their favorite birds in nature. Toxicology has shown that while these birds are indeed intoxicated, it is more often than not, the injuries sustained from these falls which are fatal to the birds. Jokes aside, however, birds really can get intoxicated by eating fermented berries. Above is a picture of our little drunkard. National Wildlife Health Center tests showed that berries collected from a nearby Ilex shrub contained 800 ppm ethanol by wet weight: “enough to produce intoxication in these birds that could have resulted in compromised behavior and subsequent fatal trauma.” This phenomenon activates the fermentation process, turning the sugars within the fruits into carbon dioxide and alcohol. Last March a berry binge led to the deaths of about 50 cedar waxwings found along a road in Harris County, Texas. So we decided that was the waxwing’s best chance of finding food and flockmates. Birds in Yukon are having some trouble flying straight these days. After all, this is a behavior that has evolved over time and is simply an example of nature being nature. I’ve volunteered for a couple of bird hospitals and know enough to when a bird is in serious trouble. You can get more from Mike (and Sweet-Seed) on twitter. Perhaps you have an idea or story about the Cedar Waxwing that you would like to share. They ate too many over-ripe berries from a Brazilian pepper tree in Los Angeles and died, some from ruptured livers and others from flying under the influence, according to a 2012 report in the Journal of Ornithology. Waxwings eat insects and berries. His odd behavior continued the rest of the day and into the next – this dreamy look, like he was a million miles away in his head. It is a medium-sized, mostly brown, gray, and yellow bird named for its wax-like wing tips. What can be done to protect the Cedar Waxwing from itself? The bird indeed was trying unsuccessfully to fly and pushing its head into the ground. The cedar waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum) is a member of the family Bombycillidae or waxwing family of passerine birds. According to e-bird, the most recent sighting of a large flock of waxwings in the Philadelphia area was the day before the release, in Houston Meadow, which also happens to have many plants and bushes with berries still on them. You might be surprised to learn that this is common. All prices are in USD Copyright © 2020 Sweet-Seed Micro Batch Bird Feed. I blew on the waxwing’s breast, spreading the … Love all the colors on the waxwing, the soft brown and gray, highlight by bright red waxy tips and yellow tail band. There have been numerous reports, ranging back to the 1800’s, of Cedar Waxwings tumbling to the ground from trees and from atop buildings, seriously injuring or killing the birds. So, we had to decide where to let him go where he had the best chance of finding 1) appropriate food (berries) and 2.) Also, he was found in the city, with no nearby source of food. It was unable to stand and lurched around in a circle. The protective skins of overwintered fruits will often-times crack during a frost, exposing the natural sugars to the air, and to the naturally occurring airborne yeasts and bacteria. I picked it up and felt around for broken bones and all felt intact. In spring, frugivorous birds like waxwings and robins will sometimes feed on berries from the previous summer which have had months to lose moisture and allow the sugars to ferment.
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