Australia vets treat hundreds of 'drunk' parrots

By Phil Mercer
BBC News, Sydney

Image caption,
The lorikeets are known for gathering in large and noisy flocks

A mystery illness resembling human drunkenness has caused hundreds of native birds to fall out of the sky in the tropical Australian city of Darwin.

The brightly-coloured lorikeets are receiving treatment at an animal hospital with symptoms similar to alcohol abuse in people.

It is unclear what is causing Darwin's inquisitive and gregarious lorikeets to unceremoniously fall to Earth.

Vets say it could take some birds several months to recover.

The mystery ailment often strikes these small parrots at the end of the wet season in Australia's rugged Northern Territory.

About 200 birds are being looked after by vets suffering what appears to be a giant hangover.

The splendidly-coloured birds with blue faces, red beaks and green wings are a sorry sight.

Bleary-eyed and dishevelled, the cantankerous patients are suffering from headaches and a lack of energy. Many seem to want just a good lie down.

Tests have failed to reveal the cause of their distress and their rehabilitation could take a few months.

When the groggy lorikeets do finally emerge from this debilitating fog, they will be released back into the wild, where they roam in large, noisy flocks.

These extrovert creatures are generally fussy eaters.

They are one of the few types of parrot that feast mainly on nectar and pollen but are best known for the shrill way they go about their daily business.