RFI: Filmable drunken lorikeets

Subject: RFI: Filmable drunken lorikeets
From: Hugo Phillipps <>
Date: Fri, 05 Oct 2001 09:01:28 +1000
Hi everybody -

I have received the request below from Philip Dalton at the BBC.  If
anybody can help Philip, please contact him directly - although you may
have relevant anecdotes that would be of wider interest.


I'm currently working on a BBC Natural History Programme that explores self
medication and Intoxication in the animal Kingdom.  Examples already filmed
include honey bees getting drunk on fermented tree sap, monkeys becoming
inebriated on fermented sugar cane, European starlings dressing their nests
with volatile herbs as a means of boosting their nestlings immune system,
lemurs anointing with millipedes to control ecto parasites and primates
eating clay to neutralise plant toxins. 

We are nearing the end of production and I'm currently looking for two more
sequences to complete the film.  One particular piece of behaviour I'm keen
to film takes place in Australia - specifically drunken lorikeets.  I
understand from several reliable sources that this is a  regular phenomenon
during Spring, between September-November.  The birds feed on fermenting
nectar from shrubs such as the bottle brush.  As a result they become
intoxicated to the point of losing co-ordination.  They have been observed
to fly into barriers such as windows and brick walls.  They often end up
lying on their backs until they recover. 

Is this behaviour that you are familiar with, and if so, can you recommend
where and when this is likely to occur?  I realise this is very much a hit
and miss affair due to factors such as climate.  I understand day
temperatures need to reach approximately 30 C or above regularly for the
nectar to ferment.  If someone can knows of a reliable site, it might be
worth keeping a cameraman on standby during the optimum window when this
behaviour is likely to occur.  

I would be interested to know your thoughts on this.  

Kind regards,

Philip Dalton
John Downer Productions/BBC

Hugo Phillipps
Communications Coordinator
Birds Australia
415 Riversdale Road
HAWTHORN EAST 3123, Australia
Tel: (03) 9882 2622, fax: (03) 9882 2677
Email: <>
Web site: <>

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