Study shows birds slur their ‘words’ when they’re drunk, too

I’m not saying they’re not doing important and potentially world-changing work, but sometimes, some scientists seem like they might be having a little too much fun at their jobs. This is one of those times.

As The Washington Post reports, researchers from Oregon Health and Science University got a bunch of birds drunk recently – all in the name of science. They plied zebra finches with juice spiked with alcohol which gave the birds a blood alcohol level of around 0.08% (equivalent to four small glasses of wine for a person, and definitely too much for any of them to drive safely…) then monitored the effects.

They found that, like humans, the birds started to slur their ‘words’ when they were drunk, with their songs becoming quieter and less controlled – similar to how it’s tough to keep up with what tipsy people are on about. However, only some of the syllables that make up their songs were affected, which means that alcohol probably affects some areas of the brain more than others, as making different sounds uses different parts of the brain.

As interesting as this is, the scientists didn’t get finches drunk for the fun of it (or not only for that reason). They’re studying them as a way to understand more about humans, as our brains are surprisingly similar to birds. Learning how birds slur when drunk can teach them more about human neurobiology, and the researchers hope that in future, our feathered friends will help them greatly expand their knowledge – maybe even without having to get them drunk first.

Image via Pixabay.

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Diane Shipley