Tuesday, June 8, 2010

“Drunk” Parrots Fall From the Trees in Australia |

Red collar lorikeets have been falling out of trees in Australia and then staggering around in an apparently inebriated state, alarming wildlife experts and veterinary surgeons.

A lorikeet

Birds struck down by the as-yet-unidentified illness in Darwin show classic signs of human drunkenness, apparently losing all coordination before passing out. When they wake up, they cower in cages as they recover from their "hangovers".

The affliction is seasonal, with most lorikeets recovering within a few weeks, only to become ill again at the same time the following year.

"They definitely seem like they're drunk," said Lisa Hansen, a veterinary surgeon at the Ark Animal Hospital in Palmerston, near Darwin.

"They fall out of trees... and they're not so coordinated as they would normally be. They go to jump and they miss the next perch."

Ms Hansen said nobody was sure what was causing the symptoms, although it may be a plant they are eating. Other theories include an outbreak of a mystery virus.

She said the hospital was caring for about 30 birds at a time, with eight arriving each day after being scooped up from lawns and roadsides.

The birds are given sweetened porridge and fresh fruit - the avian version of hangover food.

"It's probably the equivalent of ice-cream and cans of coke for the lorikeets," she said.

"They sit on the floor of the cage and rest their heads on the side, or they curl up in the corner and hide under the paper and block the rest of the world out."

Ms Hansen said "drunk" lorikeets have been seen in Palmerston previously, but never in such numbers, adding that the birds can die without proper care.


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