A veteran native bird rescuer in Northland has joked that he should open a brewery because so many kererū, drunk on fermented fruits, have been treated at the bird recovery centre recently.
Thanks to an unusually warm autumn and an excess of guava and other berries, this year has been a bumper one for drunk native pigeons, Seven Sharp reported.
The kererū has a habit of gorging on fermented fruits and then passing out drunk, unable to move.
Just outside Whangārei, local bird rescue legends Robert and Robyn Webb run the Whangārei Native Bird Recovery Centre, the southern hemisphere's biggest rehab centre for drunk kererū.
"I think we'd better open up a brewery instead of a bird recovery centre because it's just been all wood pigeons over the last month or two months," Mr Webb said.
"It sounds ridiculous, you know, but they come in here and they're absolutely blind drunk."
The kererū has no self-control when it comes to eating, so fermented fruits are like free drinks at a wedding.
The problem is, a drunk kererū can easily come a cropper - hit by a car, or carried off by a cat.
So when people find the birds drunk, maggoty or injured, they take them to Robert and Robyn for rehab.
"Even though Robyn and I started 30 years ago, I don't get a penny to work here. And we do about 18 hours every day. So you've either got to be totally dedicated or bloody stupid, one or the other. I haven't worked out which one it is yet," Mr Webb said.
Meanwhile, ornithologists are concerned as a dry July approaches because many kererū fall off the wagon hard after a month of binge sobriety, and that's where the biggest problems arise for the native pigeons.