Red-winged parrots are getting loaded on alcohol-rich mangoes and dying of intoxication or accidents caused by flying under the influence, Australian veterinarians have warned.
December is the end of the mango season in Western Australia’s Kimberley region, so there’s a lot of fallen fruit on the ground. Being especially rich in sugar, mangoes produce high amounts of alcohol while rotting under the sun.
This abundance of free booze has become a real threat to local red-winged parrots, which are simply addicted to the fermented mangoes.
At least six birds with symptoms of ethanol poisoning have been brought to the Broome Veterinary Hospital over the past week, veterinarian Paul Murphy told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
“Usually, they’ve been suffering for a couple of days… They’re quite lethargic and at various stages of malnutrition,” he said.
Those parrots were the lucky ones, but “there are a lot of them, unfortunately, that don’t make it to the clinic because they pass away before people find them,” Murphy regretted.
Some birds also died due to their “drunken behavior” as alcohol affected their motor systems. “We’re hearing a few reports of flying into windows and sitting on the floor, not being able to fly and being vulnerable to cats and other predators,” the vet said.
Red-winged parrots appear to be the only bird species to have a problem with fermented mangoes, according to the scientists.
Alcohol-related deaths are the price they’re paying for the reproduction of their favorite tree.
“The ethanol is clearly serving some sort of ecological value for the tree” as the birds that are attracted to fermented mangoes then disperse its seeds further, Michael Considine, an associate professor at the University of Western Australia, told ABC News.