Monday, February 21, 2011

Flying Drunk in Australia

A rainbow lorikeet in the wild. Photo courtesy: Wikipedia Commons

Every year around this time, medical offices in Australia are deluged with cases of loud drunks that are so intoxicated they've tumbled to the ground. No, they aren't rowdy rugby fans who've had one too many-- they're lorikeets, a colorful parrot species native to the region that has a penchant for booze. So far, veterinarians in Darwin have treated more than a few super-buzzed birds that have apparently fallen from the sky because they're flying under the influence. Tame lorikeets are known for their mischevious antics; and, are known as the "bad boys" of the parrot world.

According to Wikipedia, the colorful lorikeet is described as having a tendency "to be hyperactive and clownish in personality both in captivity and the wild," but such similarities with frat-house revelers doesn't end there. The birds are infamous for causing quite the racket on the outskirts of town, much to the chagrin of their sleeping human neighbors -- but when booze is thrown into the mix, even well-trained vets use some fairly harsh words to describe them.

"I know they're not popular. They're lovely pets, but evil when wild," says Dr. Stephen Cutter, a veterinarian from an animal hospital in Darwin.

A report from Australia's Herald Sun suggests that humans are probably not responsible for creating the boisterous band of boozed-up birds -- rather, it could be part of a natural process.
Dr Cutter said the birds were unlikely to be drinking alcohol but might eat from a plant that causes them to become drunk. "It's probably a plant with alcohol - or toxins in a plant making it worse," he said.

Dr Cutter added that the animal hospital already received about half a dozen sick parrots so far this year.
Hanging out on a balcony. Photo courtesy:

Here's to hoping that lorikeets will do their part in easing the problem cases of drunken birds falling from the sky by drinking in moderation, or at the very least, not taking to the air after they've had a few too many. In other words, straighten up and fly right.

Do these lorikeets drunk or evil or both? Photo courtesy: HeraldSun

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