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Birds Drinking Alcohol: Species and Relationship with People. A Review of Information from Scientific Literature and Social Media

Institute of Zoology, Poznań University of Life Sciences, Wojska Polskiego 71 C, 60-625 Poznań, Poland
Faculty of Environmental Sciences, Czech University of Life Sciences Prague, Kamýcká 129, 165 00 Prague 6, Czech Republic
Branch Faculty of the University of Zielona Góra in Sulechów, Armii Krajowej Str. 51, 66-100 Sulechów, Poland
Department of Zoology and Animal Ecology University of Life Sciences in Lublin, Akademicka 13,20-950, Lublin, Poland
Department of Meteorology, Poznan University of Life Sciences
Museum of Zoology, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3EJ, UK
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2020, 10(2), 270;
Received: 15 December 2019 / Revised: 3 February 2020 / Accepted: 3 February 2020 / Published: 9 February 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Birds)
Alcohol consumption is quite common in the bird world. Using scientific literature and Internet resources (available because of the rising popularity of social media), we investigate which species and sources of ethanol are most frequently used by captive and wild birds. Moreover, it was possible with the internet videos to discriminate between intentional and unintentional ingestion. This information may be helpful in choosing appropriate species for future laboratory studies about ethanol metabolism in birds and their behaviour.
Ethanol is a natural by-product of the fermentation process of fruit sugars and is occasionally consumed by fruit-eating and tree sap drinking birds. Information on this form of alcohol consumption features in the scientific literature. However, as pets or as wild animals living close to humans in urban habitats, birds have increasing possibilities to consume alcohol from beverages, such as beer, wine or spirits. Some observations have been discussed in a light-hearted manner in mass media and social media, but without any generalization of why some bird species drink the beverages intentionally or unintentionally provided by humans. To check which species and in what circumstances birds drink alcohol and how this is evaluated by humans, we reviewed the scientific literature and analysed videos from YouTube. In total we found and analysed 8 scientific papers and 179 YouTube videos, from which we identified at least 55 species (in some cases not all birds were identified to species level), 11 in the scientific literature and 47 in videos. The distribution of these species over the avian phylogenetic tree suggests that the origin of this convergent behaviour is mainly by human influence. The two data sources differed in the species covered. Videos typically presented interactions of birds with human-provided alcoholic beverages, and were dominated by two groups of intelligent birds: parrots and corvids. The popularity of YouTube videos for a particular species was positively correlated with the general popularity of the species as measured by the number of hits (results listed) on Google. Human responses to the videos were generally very positive and we analysed how the responses were influenced by factors derived from viewing the videos. Moreover, YouTube videos also provide information on at least 47 new bird species not previously mentioned as using alcohol, and our results suggest that parrots in particular can be potentially good candidates for future restricted laboratory studies on the effect of ethanol on birds and their relationship with humans.
Keywords: anthropogenic impact; alcohol abuse; junk food; social media; YouTube anthropogenic impact; alcohol abuse; junk food; social media; YouTube
MDPI and ACS Style

Tryjanowski, P.; Hetman, M.; Czechowski, P.; Grzywaczewski, G.; Sklenicka, P.; Ziemblińska, K.; Sparks, T.H. Birds Drinking Alcohol: Species and Relationship with People. A Review of Information from Scientific Literature and Social Media. Animals 2020, 10, 270.

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