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 Juiced-up Native Birds Flying Under the Influence

Mix guavas and Whangarei's native birds and you have a drink-flying problem.
Drunk kukupa (native wood pigeons) and tui have been indulging in some very human behaviour - getting drunk and crashing into cars and windows.
The pigeons' tipple of choice is fermented guava juice. Even the usually sober tui are falling prey to the small, tasty fruit.
Whangarei Native Bird Recovery Centre manager Robert Webb has admitted around 12 drunk, injured kukupa and tui to his "bird hospital" in the past three weeks. The problems are a repeat of last July, when kukupa gorged themselves on loquats and totara berries.
"They get so drunk they get disoriented and don't notice where they're flying," Mr Webb said.
While it only takes a day for the birds to get over their hangovers, their injuries - which include bruising, spinal damage and damaged feet - can take weeks to heal


The latest admission to the bird recovery centre looked decidedly worse for wear, lying on a bed of shredded paper with its wings splayed out.
"This bird had a big feed of guavas, flew out and whacked a car on Maunu Hill," Mr Webb said.
Across the room, a tui with a sore foot was recovering well after flying into a Maunu house window a week earlier.
Mr Webb said kukupa had an ideal home fermenting kit, as their crops provided warm conditions to ferment guava juice.
The bird hospital could see a few more woozy patients yet, as the guavas will continue fruiting for a few more weeks.
Mr Webb said kukupa were special birds because they kept the forest alive.
"They swallow berries and their gut takes the outer casing of the seed off to allow the seeds to grow easily," he said.
Whangarei kukupa generally live around Mt Parihaka and Pukenui Forest on the Western Hills.

Reported in NZ Herald 5 May 06



 
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