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May Wilkerson May Wilkerson

Scientists Discover That Drunk Birds Slur Their Chirps

Much like humans, birds are "a bit less organized in their sound production" after they drink booze. Thanks, Science!

8 Substance

"Go drunk, you're home!"

“Go drunk, you’re home!”

Science is always there to answer life’s most pressing questions. Such as, what happens to birds’ singing if they get wasted? Do they sound like a bunch of drunks at a karaoke bar after hours?

Scientists at Oregon Health and Science University recently investigated, by giving water infused with 6% alcohol to some caged finches. Turns out, much like humans, birds slur their chirps after hitting the sauce.

Finches long have been used as a model to study how humans learn to communicate. So the scientists wanted to see if alcohol affected their “speech” in the same way it affects humans. Though the birds only had a BAC level of .05 to .08 percent—just above the legal driving limit for humans—birds metabolize alcohol differently. So they were pretty sloshed.

The researchers were also surprised to find how much the birds enjoyed getting inebriated. “A lot of animals just won’t touch the stuff,” says head researcher Christopher Olson. “But they seem to tolerate it pretty well and be somewhat willing to consume it.”

In the audio of the NPR story, you can hear the difference in the finches’ song after the booze makes them “a bit less organized in their sound production.” In other words, slurred and slow, like your Uncle George after hitting the Christmas punch.