Do people go birding while inebriated?  There is the blog The Drinking Bird, but what about the drinking birder?  Birdchick hosts Birds and Beers but that is held in bars and the birds tend to be discussed, not seen.  There is a painfully bad song called “Drunk Bird Watching” on You Tube but the only “bird” seems to be someone saying “hello” like a caged parrot.  In researching this blog post I did stumble across a blog I had not heard of before entitled The Drunkbirder, but I failed to find a single post on that blog that involved over-imbibing and birding.

So, I will have to take the last refuge of a lazy blogger and report from personal experience.  No, I have not birded drunk before.  Sure, I have come close, after downing a few margaritas at the beach-side bar before going looking for terns at Cupsogue, or from downing a few delicious rum drinks at Pico Bonito, or after hoisting a few post-work beers before doing some birding on my way home, but I can’t recall birding while actually drunk.   Can you?

I don’t think that birding drunk would be terribly easy, to be perfectly honest.  Considering how hard it can be to focus one’s eyes when drunk I imagine it would be even more difficult to focus optics.  Also, the whole seeing double thing would certainly skew species counts.  Now, whether or not birders may or may not partake of other, illegal substances, well, I doubt anyone is going to come out and admit it in the comments…

There are stories of speed-fueled big days floating around out there, stories that come only by word of mouth and are never written down.  And, really, what is the caffeine in coffee but a speed-like stimulant?  I imagine that birding while high on marijuana might lead to, ahem, interesting experiences, and I don’t even want to know what type of sightings might occur when one birds on a hallucinogen (Man, did you see that fly by?  I swear, it was a pterodactyl!).  Steroids seem unlikely to give much of an advantage to a birder, unless one is carrying waaaaay too much gear.  At high elevations chewing coca leaves is supposed to help with elevation sickness – have any birders out there tried coca leaves?

But to get back to booze and birds.  If you have drank to drunkenness while birding, what did you drink?  Was it fun?  Was it difficult?  Do you have a horror story?  Would you recommend that other birders try it?

Finally, I would like to point out that many birders use cars to get to and from birding locations and want to make sure that no one thinks it would be cool to bird drunk and then drive.  That’s a good way to end up as road kill, which, while it might get your body a good look at a vulture, is not something we want to see happen to any of our 10,000 Birds readers!

This post was originally published on 16 March 2010, but we hate to keep posts this good buried in the archives!


Written by Corey
Corey is a New Yorker who lived most of his life in upstate New York but has lived in Queens since 2008. He's only been birding since 2005 but has garnered a respectable life list by birding whenever he wasn't working as a union representative or spending time with his family. He lives in Forest Hills with Daisy and Desmond Shearwater. His bird photographs have appeared on the Today Show, in Birding, Living Bird Magazine, Bird Watcher's Digest, and many other fine publications. He is also the author of the American Birding Association Field Guide to the Birds of New York.