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Drunk Birds Sing Like Drunk Humans, Researchers Find

Drunk Birds Sing Like Drunk Humans, Researchers Find

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Like us, birds have some trouble enunciating when drunk-singing

Alcohol affects the way that birds sing, researchers say.

The sudden realization that you are the best singer in the world that inexplicably overtakes your mind and body after a few cold ones is not exclusive to humans; other members of the animal kingdom experience this as well, according to new research from the Oregon Health and Science University.

Researcher Christopher Olson and his colleagues recently discovered that birds — zebra finches in particular — actually sing differently when they’re drunk than they do when sober.

“At first we were thinking that they wouldn't drink on their own because, you know, a lot of animals just won't touch the stuff,” Olson told All Things Considered. “But they seem to tolerate it pretty well and be somewhat willing to consume it."

Dosed by the researchers with “a little bit of juice with six percent alcohol,” the finches’ song became “a bit quieter and just a little slurred,” according to NPR.

Quite like the human cocktail drinker, the birds became “a bit less organized in their sound production.” Olson says that next, the team would potentially research how the birds are able to learn new songs.

Drunk Birds Caught Staggering After ‘Gulls’ Night Out’

Staggering around, unconscious, and “reeking of beer,” British seagulls are doing a fine impersonation of thirsty holidaymakers on England’s Southwest coast. Yet, the case of these drunken seagulls has left animal rescue workers mystified.

As reported by Devon Live, during the past fortnight, over two dozen ‘drunk’ birds have been taken into RSPCA animal rescue centers, with birds said to be “in such a state that they are almost unconscious.”

36 Gifts and Gadgets For Anyone Who Loves Drinks

Local news sources suggest the gulls are becoming intoxicated on half-finished cups of beer, but the RSPCA, Britain’s largest animal welfare charity, remains unconvinced.

Speaking to Devon Live, a spokesperson for RSPCA West Hatch said, “I’m almost positive it is not that they are drinking beer left on beaches as they have all eaten a substance that they have brought back up.”

They added, “Our suspicion is that it is a by-product of the brewing process, as they all seem to have eaten the same thing.”

The RSPCA has urged local breweries and distilleries to ensure that wildlife cannot get to their waste. But, this theory, too, is problematic, given that spent grains from the brewing process typically contain little, if any, alcohol.

Speaking to the BBC, RSPCA officer Jo Daniel said, “… the birds absolutely stink of alcohol when we collect them so now our vans smell like pubs.”

Meanwhile, another possible suggestion is that symptoms are actually unrelated to alcohol consumption. In previous years, gulls have reportedly exhibited drunken behavior after eating scores of flying ants, yet this theory fails to explain why intoxicated birds are left smelling like alcohol.

One thing’s for sure: Just like humans, gulls endure the many ill-effects of enjoying one drink too many. Or, as RSPCA officer Clara Scully put it, “They’ve really been suffering with hangovers after a gulls’ night out.”

Buzzed birds slur their songs, researchers find

A pair of Zebra finches at Bird Kingdom, Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. Credit: Wikipedia

You know how that guy at the karaoke bar singing Journey's "Don't Stop Believin' " sounds a little off after he's had a few drinks? The same goes for buzzed birds, according to a team led by researchers from Oregon Health & Science University.

For a study published in PLoS ONE, scientists found that when they got some unsuspecting zebra finches drunk, the birds slurred their songs. The findings could help scientists study the neural processes underlying birdsong - and shed light on human speech.

While many scientists want to understand alcohol's effects on such a complex system as speech, it's difficult to perform the necessary studies on humans, which is why many researchers turn to birds.

Scientists who want to study the origins of human language often study zebra finches, in part because the two species seem to share a number of similarities. For example, they both have to learn how to make complex sequences of sound by learning from those around them. In the case of humans, that's usually a child's parents. In the case of zebra finches, it's usually the birds' fathers (only the males actually sing).

"There are remarkable analogies in how zebra finch song and human speech are learned and produced," the study authors pointed out.

For this paper, researchers gave white grape juice to one group of birds, and gave a mixture of the juice and ethanol to another group. They found a number of effects on different aspects of birdsong - particularly on amplitude and entropy. The birds weren't able to sing as loudly, and they couldn't keep their song's normal structure stable.

It did not affect all aspects of the finches' birdsong equally, however. The scientists think their research offers clues about which parts of the brain the alcohol is disrupting.

Oddly enough, the birds with the spiked drinks didn't seem to suffer the sorts of issues drunken humans face, such as being unable to walk in a straight line. The birds seemed to suffer no drooped wings, no closed eyes, no sudden sluggishness.

"We did not detect visible effects on the birds' general behaviors or health, as indicated by the normal appearance of feathers and the ability to perch, feed, maintain normal posture and fly inside the cage," the study authors wrote.

4 Spying On Penguins With Robot Penguins

Penguins are one of the most notoriously camera-shy animals out there, which has always made it difficult to observe them up close in their natural habitat. So to get unadulterated penguin behavior in real time, scientists have been using mobile cameras hidden inside penguin robots of . varying sophistication.

"Dammit, Timmy. Didn't I warn you about playing with your Power Wheels near the teleporter?"

Of all the penguin spy bots, BBC's RockhopperCam is arguably the most technologically well-equipped. It features an authentic waddling gait and the ability to right itself should it ever topple over. The Rockhopper robot was so lifelike that it landed one momentarily lonely male penguin in hot water. While the penguin's lady was out of town, the randy male made the robot's acquaintance and, well, basically fell in love with it. But when the dashing cad's wife returned from penguin errands, she was so enraged that she laid fisticuffs to the robotic hussy and pushed it to the ground.

Then we have the EmperorCam, which is a remote-controlled toboggan that's actually managed to film Emperor Penguin chicks being birthed for the first time in history.

We're sure none of these will have any impact on the penguins' paranoia once they discover the truth.

These varied surveillance media took almost a year's worth of footage for an extensive BBC special called Penguins: Spy In The Huddle, probably because there were some copyright issues with naming it The Truman Show, But With Penguins.

Related: That Time Florida Feared A 'Giant Penguin' Was Terrorizing Beaches

Like father, like son

Young zebra finches typically start learning their songs by listening to their fathers in the first four months of their life, said Yoko Yazaki-Sugiyama , an assistant professor and brain science expert at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, and one of the study’s authors.

“The first one month or so, they don’t sing — but they are listening to what their fathers sing,” she explained. “So a month after, they are starting to sing by themselves, but in the beginning their songs are not really matured — more like a baby babbling. And then at that time what they’re doing is hearing their own song and trying to match their own vocals to the tutor song.”

After about 90 to 100 days of life, their songs become stable, she said.

Previous research has suggested that a specific area of the brain known as the caudomedial nidopallium, or NCM, is the place where young zebra finches store memories of the “tutor song,” or the song their fathers sing to teach them, when they hear it.

This brain region is similar to the auditory cortex found in humans, the part of the brain that helps process sound information.

“But none of these [previous] studies had shown what kind of neural activity was happening in this period,” Yazaki-Sugiyama said.

She and colleague Shin Yanagihara, also of the Okinawa Institute, decided to record neural activity in the brains of juvenile zebra finches in order to find out.

The researchers gathered 20 birds, all between 50 and 92 days old, and exposed them to nine different types of sound stimuli. These included a tutor song, as well as recordings of the young birds’ own singing and songs from other species.

After exposure to the different stimuli, the researchers found that a certain subset of neurons in the NCM became selective — from that point on, they would only fire in response to a certain type of song.

The majority of the neurons that did so became selective to the tutor song, although a few of them became selective to other stimuli, such as the baby bird’s own vocalizations.

This activity suggested that these neurons were critical to storing memories of specific types of sounds.

Image: Andia/UIG via Getty Images

The trick to acting drunk in ‘Another Round’? Booze Camp

Oscar-nominated Danish director Thomas Vinterberg imagined an early version of his international-feature Oscar nominee “Another Round” in 2013 while batting around ideas with cowriter Tobias Lindholm. “We originally thought about making a movie that was solely a celebration of alcohol,” Vinterberg says from his Copenhagen home. “Then we realized we’ve known too many families destroyed by alcohol to not tell the dark side of drinking as well. But we did not yet have the engine for the story.”

That engine came a few years later courtesy of Norwegian psychiatrist Finn Skårderud’s theory that humans are born with a .05 blood-alcohol deficiency. In “Another Round,” this thoroughly unscientific notion inspires four bored high school teachers (played by Mads Mikkelsen, Magnus Millang, Lars Ranthe and Thomas Bo Larsen) to drink every day, all day, using breathalyzers to maintain a modest blood-alcohol content as they engage with their students.

The experiment, of course, goes off the rails. To prepare his cast for playing everything from tipsy to blackout drunk, Vinterberg set up what he calls “booze boot camp.” Mikkelsen describes the weeklong experience, fueled mainly by schnapps and beer, as revelatory.

“Booze camp gave us actors the chance to be as precise as the guys in the story,” he says. “What happens if we’re filmed doing a scene at .05 [blood-alcohol content], and then again at .08, and then a couple of levels more? The first day I left rehearsals thinking, ‘I’m not sure we got anything out of this,’ because it’s not like we felt drunk or anything. But the day afterward, it was very enlightening to watch yourself in the footage and see all these subtle little differences between being sober and tipsy. After two beers, .05, your hands are all of a sudden a little freer. Two more drinks, .08, the lisp you had as a kid comes back. And then at .10, this is where we stopped listening to anyone, especially the director!”

Vinterberg further synched the actors’ performances to reality-based behavior by studying research compiled from Danish police reports. “They gave us this very thorough scheme showing how people behave at different blood-alcohol levels, and I put that up on the wall,” he says. “At one level, you typically start singing. At another level, you start to doze off. And then at a certain point, you cannot get your clothes off and on.”

The first intoxication sequence in “Another Round,” played as are all the scenes by completely sober actors, costars Champagne with a wine chaser as the four friends celebrate a birthday. “That was by far the toughest scene of the film to shoot,” Vinterberg says. “I wanted to show that these characters share a past and miss each other, but they’ve put up thick walls. As the scene evolves and the miracle of alcohol opens up Mads’ mind, they go from being polite and slightly nervous to loosening up and dancing in the restaurant — ‘We don’t care!’ — before they go outside and become like children. They feel this warmth of being a gang again.”

A few days later, Mikkelsen’s Martin, emboldened by morning vodka, mesmerizes his previously sullen history students with spellbinding lectures. Vinterberg says, “Mads gets the courage to become the man he used to be with the perfect dose of alcohol. He’s not drunk. But he’s also not sober. On set, we coined that state as being ‘zero.’ That’s where the theory says you should be at when you’re born.”

Vinterberg, who notes that he grew up on a commune “with great people, great conversation and lots of alcohol,” pushes “Another Round” into darker territory when Nikolaj (Millang) kick-starts a long day of group drinking by serving up Sazerac cocktails made with absinthe. Determined to achieve “total oblivion,” the men dance awkwardly to American soul music, stumble through a store knocking down merchandise and try to spear codfish at the local wharf using a blunt pole. They wind up at a pub, where Nikolaj eats paper money and Martin stage-dives from the top of the bar into a throng of rowdy drinkers.

The night ends in shambles when Nikolaj tries to sneak into his home without waking the family, only to cause an uproar when he passes out and wets the bed. Millang used numerous tricks to get into drunken character. “I spun around 40 times,” he says. “They rubbed schnapps around my face so I could smell the alcohol. I remembered being young and drunk, puking all over my room. And I just imagined the rest of it as I was crawling up the stairs.”

The teachers’ project falls apart when tragedy befalls one “Another Round” character, but alcohol reasserts its magical powers during the film’s grand finale. As newly graduated high school students get drunk in their captain hats, per Danish tradition, Mikkelsen’s Martin drinks deeply from a bottle of Champagne, then dances like the magnificent jazz ballet artist he once dreamed of being.

“Champagne is what started the journey for our characters, so I liked coming back around to that,” Vinterberg says. “Also, if you look into the specifics of alcohol, you learn that bubbles ignite alcohol at triple speed. When you add bubbles, you get drunk much quicker.”

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6. Bees penalise drunk flyers when they get back to the hive.

Getting a D.U.I. is probably one of the worst things to have on your driving record, but at least you're not a bee who was caught under the influence.

Bees can get drunk off fermented nectar, causing flying accidents. Some bees get so wasted they don't even remember how to get home. But, it's even more tragic for the bees that do manage to find their way back to the hive. Entomologist Errol Hassan told the Guardian that some hives impose severe penalties for bees caught flying under the influence – even going as far as attacking the poor, drunken bee.

But, apparently it's legal in the bee community to consume nicotine and caffeine. In a 2010 University of Haifa study, bees actually preferred nectar that contained nicotine and caffeine over normal nectar. Luckily for the bees, nicotine is naturally produced by the floral nectar of tobacco trees, while caffeine is found in citrus.

A distinctive song helped researchers find a new, elusive bird species

An elusive bird with a tendency to hide among the grassy vegetation of central China's mountainous terrain was finally confirmed to be an entirely new species, thanks to its distinctive song.

Meet the Sichuan Bush Warbler, which made its debut in a paper published in Avian Research on Friday. Its scientific name is Locustella chengi, after the late Chinese ornithologist Cheng Tso-hsin.

The Sichuan Bush Warbler looks a lot like another species, the Russet Bush Warbler, and both birds live more or less in the same places.

But the "exceedingly secretive" Sichuan Bush Warbler sounds quite different from its neighbor, a Michigan State University biologist who co-authored the paper said in a statement. "Its distinctive song . consists of a low-pitched drawn-out buzz, followed by a shorter click, repeated in series," Pamela Rasmussen said.

You can listen to that song here, via the Avian Vocalizations Center.

Although exceedingly hard to spot, the new species appears to be pretty common in the region, Rasmussen noted.

The birds are visually distinguished by only slight observable differences, based on the specimens studied by researchers. The Sichuan Bush Warbler is "typically greyer (less russet) above and on the breast-sides and flanks," the paper explains. But, the researchers note, "this difference does not always hold."

All of the specimens that researchers were able to examine turned out to be males, so it's possible that a female Sichuan Bush Warbler could be more visually distinct.

Drunk Birds Sing Like Drunk Humans, Researchers Find - Recipes

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3. Feeders should be absolutely clean. Polluted/ contaminated feeders are not only bad for hummers, but they will likely never return to the feeder.

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• UV stable polycarbonate is the highest recommended material for feeders that are in direct sun. Most manufacturers of such feeders offer lifetime guarantees on their products.

• Change nectar often to prevent fermentation and mold or bacteria build-up. Twice a week is highly recommended in general. Particular circumstances, such as extremely hot or cold daily temperatures, may determine a longer or shorter “freshness time” for nectar. Fermented nectar (left out too long) is giving your hummingbirds a license to fly drunk. Avoid this happening by keeping a regular schedule for cleaning and refilling.

• Avoid using soaps. Some people use bleach, or vinegar when cleaning feeders between refills. Using hot water and a brush/ sponge will leave no residues.

• Never use red food coloring.

• Avoid additives. Keep it pure and simple.

• Never use honey, organic sugar, cane or agave syrup, or brown sugar. These sweeteners contain many natural elements that may be safe for humans but may be harmful to hummers. They contain too much iron, calcium, etc.

• Hummingbirds do not suck nectar. Their tongues lick up nectar at a high rate of speed – 13-20 times per second!

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• It is believed that hummingbirds have an internal navigation system akin to a GPS system. They will always return to favorite feeders that have the best nectar for them.

• Most feeders have the color red incorporated into their manufacture. For feeders that lack enough color, try tying a red ribbon to the feeder or paint some red nail polish around the food ports. Once they find it for the first time, their little GPS system will effectively enable them to return to the same exact location time after time.

• There are many feeders on the market – some better than others – in quality and attractiveness to hummingbirds. The least expensive feeders are the ones that most often experience the common problems – leaking, dripping, not bee/ant proof, poor quality of materials, not UV stable, etc.

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• At nesting time a reliable source of nectar will encourage momma hummingbird to nest nearby. Thus, reducing travel time from feeder to nest. And perhaps facilitating another brood. Then you'll have adults, first brood and then second brood.

Share All sharing options for: How to Drink (Somewhat Responsibly) on an Airplane

The world of dining and drinking is an obstacle course wrapped in a labyrinth wrapped in a logic puzzle — it’s full of pitfalls, gray areas, and bewildering questions that really shouldn’t even be questions (How do I find the bathroom?) and yet, somehow, are. Fortunately, your friends at Eater are here to help: Life Coach is a series of simple guides to the arcane rituals of modern dining. Have a question or a quandary you’d like us to tackle? Drop Life Coach a line.

There are few things in this world less pleasant that flying. Sure, the airplane is a marvelous invention humans get to hurl through space and time at 38,000 feet and traverse whole continents and oceans in less than a day (. ). But somehow that gets overshadowed by everything else that’s inconvenient and uncomfortable about air travel, and often, the only thing to look forward to besides free movies and HGTV reruns is waiting for the flight attendant’s sharp-cornered metal cart.

Contrary to popular belief, there’s no evidence that drinking at higher altitudes — particularly planes — gets you drunk faster. However, there are a few factors that can leave you feeling worse after drinking an alcoholic beverage on a plane. Airlines typically pressurize their cabins to ensure that passengers are receiving enough oxygen, with pressure falling within the range of 6,000 to 8,000 feet above sea level. While most bodies easily adjust to the change, at least one study suggests that the pressurized plane can result in some mild hypoxia (lower oxygen levels in the blood), which contributes to flyers feeling dried out and jet lagged. The environment also changes the way people experience flavors, meaning your favorite mixed drink on the ground may taste a little “off” in the sky.

But if you have a long flight ahead and complimentary alcohol accessible (hello, international flights), here are some tips to make having an in-flight drink a little more tolerable.

1) Drink water before anything else

It’s really easy to get dehydrated when flying. Humidity inside a typical house falls between 30 and 60 percent, but the air inside a typical plane cabin is often compared to the Sahara Desert, with levels around 10 to 20 percent. (Some newer planes boost the humidity to a balmy 25 percent.) That low humidity helps prevent metal components from rusting, but it also wicks away moisture from your body. Some studies show that dehydration can alter people’s mood. It can also make people more prone to getting sick in a germ-filled cabin , because it dries out mucus membranes in the nose and mouth. And not surprisingly, already-dehydrated people who consume alcoholic beverages may feel the effects of their drink more strongly — and feel worse afterwards.

For all these reasons, it’s important to drink water before and during your flight. Order a glass of water in addition to your preferred beverage. If you’re worried about the quality of the water on the airplane, bring your own refillable container (fill it after security) or purchase a water bottle prior to boarding. While there’s no need to consume more water than you normally would, balance diuretic drinks like cocktails (plus tea and coffee) with relatively equal amounts of H20. This is particularly important on long flights and can help stave off lethargy and jet lag when you arrive at your destination.

2) Plan to limit your drinking — and take the snacks

Again, you won’t get drunk more quickly on a plane. But lack of food and the aforementioned dehydration can make the effects of altitude stronger, thus making a single in-flight drink feel a lot boozier. If you’re willing to pay the premiums for alcohol on a flight, extend that to the food they’re serving, too: It might not be great, but you can avert any cringy reenactments of Bridesmaids by eating and pacing yourself with the wine. (And some free snacks offered by the airline, usually the pre-packaged cookies or crackers, are actually not terrible — take the snacks.) If airplane food doesn’t sound appealing, consider purchasing something to eat on the way to the airport or inside the terminal.

3) Skip fizzy beverages

Fizzy alcoholic beverages like sparkling wine and beer tend to be popular among travelers. Beer in particular often seems like a good choice, because it’s generally more affordable than hard alcohol and is also slightly less dehydrating when sipped slowly. However, there’s some evidence to show that carbonated beverages, like that celebratory brut, will hit your system more quickly and, consequently, make you feel drunk faster.

Other factors also work against that bubbly rum and Coke. Some people report feeling more bloated and gassy at high altitudes, such as during steep ascents during hikes or, in some cases, while flying on an airplane. This experience is known as high altitude flatus expulsion (HAFE) (or colloquially, “jet bloat”), and in theory results from the gases expanding in your gut as you move from a higher pressure to a lower pressure area. While some people recommend digestive aids, the simplest way to combat that bloated feeling is through your diet. At the very least, if you’re going to drink on the flight, try to avoid carbonated drinks like soda and beer beforehand.

4) Drink fruity wines

Because of changes to your palate and the nature of alcohol at 40,000 feet, your preferred style of wine may not hold up at cruising altitude. The rule of thumb, according to most wine experts, is to seek out something low in tannins and acids. That means avoiding options like champagne and chablis in favor of fruitier varieties. Some experts also recommend drinking the wine as early as possible in the flight before your mouth dries out from the low humidity.

5) When in doubt, drink a bloody mary

The unnatural environment inside an airplane alters how people perceive certain flavors, making what would otherwise be an adequate meal and and drink on the ground completely inedible in the air. However, some beverages have a loyal in-flight following. United Airlines customers were outraged in 2018 when the carrier briefly discontinued tomato juice on some flights, observing that it’s one of the few drinks that actually tastes good on a plane.

In one famous case, German airline Lufthansa observed that travelers on its flights consumed nearly as much tomato juice as beer. Researchers for the airline used a specialized lab to recreate the conditions inside an airplane and found that sweet and salty flavors were toned down onboard an aircraft, making food and drink taste bland. In contrast, tomato juice resisted those effects. While the sweetness and saltiness of the tomatoes were indeed more muted, the drink still tasted delicious because tomatoes are rich in umami flavors. This observation led some airlines to incorporate more ingredients associated with umami into food such as seaweed, mushrooms, and soy sauce, as well as spicier ingredients.

Amp up the flavors of your drink in flight by choosing tomato juice or its cousin, spicy bloody mary mix (with or without the booze). And no matter what you do, just try to avoid throwing the drink directly into your face.

Crawfish Might Help Scientists Explain Drunkenness&mdashReally

The South's favorite boiled snack is helping to make a scientific breakthrough.

For years, scientists have tried to figure out whether a sociable setting can encourage drunkenness. Specifically, they wanted to know whether drinking in a friendly crowd can actually make you more drunk, as opposed to drinking alone. Guess these scientists weren&apost invited to too many tailgating parties or book clubs, because to get to the root of this problem, they turned to crawfish. Yes, crawfish, the beloved mud bugs that play a starring role in low country holidays and crawfish boils around the South.

As The Economist reports, researchers at the University of Maryland spent a lot of time planning a crawfish party, because crawfish process ethanol the same way as humans. To study the effects of sociability on alcohol processing, 102 crustaceans spent seven and 10 days in groups, while the remaining 63 crawfish were raised in isolation. The scientists then placed all 165 crawfish individually in tanks filled with ethanol in water, which is like a margarita, but much less fun. The scientists then sat back to see which crawfish would get drunk more quickly.

Researchers said the crawfish raised in groups got drunk 25 percent faster than those kept in isolation. As to how they knew a crawfish was drunk, according to The Economist, crawfish act a lot like your Aunt Mae after she&aposs had one too many glasses of eggnog at the Christmas pageant: "First, they started walking around on tiptoes. Then, they began flicking their tails and doing somersaults (see picture). Finally, the most inebriated ended up lying on their backs, kicking their legs in the air—or, rather, in the water."

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Through their study, the scientists were able to prove what countless sorority gatherings and, yes, even crawfish boils have shown for years—that a sociable upbringing does indeed increase sensitivity to alcohol. Feel free to share this fact over a glass of wine or two at the next crawfish boil.

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