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Mystery of Drunken Parrots Down Under

By Leah Lemieux


Red-collared Lorikeet Photos © Etienne Van der Stricht

In a northern Australia near Sydney, hundreds of Red-collared lorikeets are tumbling from the trees in what appears to be a drunken stupor. Apparently inebriated, the parrots are staggering around on the ground in an uncoordinated manner and passing out on lawns and under trees. Veterinarians, struggling to care for the birds being brought in are baffled. It is suspected this reaction in the parrots is due either to something seasonal they are eating, like fermented nectar (as this kind of behavior has been seen previously, though never in such numbers) or possibly the outbreak of an unidentified virus.

Concerned locals are scooping up seemingly soused birds from lawns, yards and roadsides and delivering them into veterinary care, where they are seen to show apparent signs of avian hangovers including lethargy and disorientation and are being nursed with sweetened porridge and fresh fruit until they are ready for release back into the wild.

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