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Tanami East, Australia

Drunken Australian Parrots

The Australian lorikeets that like to tie one on in an annual drinking binge. 

During the wet season in Australia, residents prepare for the invasion of these small, colorful parrots that engage in some very colorful behavior.

Exhibiting telltale signs of hitting the bottle, including sudden lack of coordination, falling out of trees, and a vicious hangover, these lorikeets are most likely indulging in fermented berries from Schotia brachypetala, more commonly known as the “Drunken Parrot Tree.” While scientists fear there is possibly a virus affecting the birds as well, it’s clear that the bird booze is at least part of the problem.

The red-collared lorikeet seems to have this unfortunate problem only during Australia’s wet season, through October and November. Delightful, friendly teetotalers throughout the year, these small parrots suddenly become sluggish, clumsy, and to their detriment, fearless of would-be predators. After a few days of fratboy behavior, the birds become ill, with the typical signs of a hangover, and while concerned specialists try to quarantine and care for as many as possible, sadly quite a few of the birds die.

While it’s amusing to imagine these bright little guys stumbling over each other and slurring their parrot drinking songs, it is a troubling mystery for the local animal hospitals and bird experts. Signs that a virus exist include respiratory problems and mucus discharge, as well as the “hangovers” lasting longer than they should. 

Until the strange puzzle of this ailment is unraveled, the best that animal caretakers can do is round up the little drunkards and provide a safe place for them to have a good lie down until the effects wear off, and then they are released back into the wild.