Alcohol affects how well, or not, someone can sing after getting drunk. And, according to a study, the same goes for buzzed birds, especially zebra finches.
In the study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, scientists from Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) said that when they fed some zebra finches some spiked juice and got them drunk, the birds slurred their songs. Scientists said that the study is expected to help them better understand the neural processes that help humans learn how to speak.
“We just showed up in the morning and mixed a little bit of juice with 6 percent alcohol, and put it in their water bottles and put it in the cages,” Christopher Olson of OHSU told National Public Radio. “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. But they seem to tolerate it pretty well and be somewhat willing to consume it.”
According to the scientists, the finches readily drank the alcohol, which increased their blood alcohol content significantly, and made them sing with “an altered acoustic structure.”
“The most pronounced effects were decreased amplitude and increased entropy, the latter likely reflecting a disruption in the birds’ ability to maintain the spectral structure of song under alcohol,” the researchers said in the study.
However, the researchers said that alcohol did not have a uniform effect on all aspects of the finches’ song. The scientists believe that the findings of the study offer clues about which parts of the brain get disrupted more by alcohol. According to the researchers, the drunken birds did not seem to suffer the sorts of issues that intoxicated humans usually face.
“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's authors wrote.