A steep rise in the number of drunk wood pigeons (kūkupa) turning up at the Whangārei Native Bird Recovery Centre has led manager Robert Webb to issue a warning – don't offer the drunks anything to eat or drink.

With native autumn forest fruits coming to an end, Webb said the wood pigeons started to come into residential areas to feed on guava berries.

"They absolutely adore them and scoff them down as fast as they can. The problem is the berries sit in the bird's crop where they ferment and turn into alcohol – the birds get bombed out of their brains and then fly into windows and cars, or simply fall out of trees."

The centre currently has about 10 kūkupa recovering from their drunken escapades and Webb said they've had about 25 come through in the last three weeks.


"We usually get around 80 wood pigeons this time of year – we're well into the drunken season."

Whangārei Bird Recovery Centre inundated with dehydrated birds
Premium - The bird, its poo and the huge power outage that hit Northland
Forest & Bird files Environment Court appeal for better protection of endangered birds in Northland
Rare beauty at risk

With the number of drunken birds on the rise, Webb has firm advice for anyone finding a drunken wood pigeon.

"The main thing is to not give them water or anything to eat. Most people think water is the best way to sober them up, but usually the bird is so stressed it spills the water, gets wet and then almost always catches pneumonia.

"Even though they may appear hungry and want to eat, this is often a reflex action caused by stress and is actually dangerous as they can get sick and then choke."

Webb advises that instead the wood pigeon should be put in a box with something soft to protect them and kept in a warm, quiet place before being taken to the Bird Centre.

To bring in a wood pigeon, contact the Native Bird Recovery Centre on 09-438 1457 or info@nbr.org.nz, or leave the bird at the front door. The birds will be taken to the rehab unit to be sobered up before being released somewhere safe.