How parrots get (ahem) pissed
We've discovered at last how that colourful phrase "pissed as a parrot" originated. For years, we'd wondered why humans under the affluence of inkohol are sometimes said to act like parrots. If that pee word offends you, then read no further.
Here are a few examples we found when we googled the phrase:
Now to return to the parrots. They become legless when they over-indulge in certain types of berries, we learned the other day by reading a report by Richard Macey in the Sydney Morning Herald.In English being pissed means being drunk. Being pissed off has a distinct separate meaning, anger and frustration, often sullen frustration. In America the first usage is not used so Americans will say "I'm pissed" meaning "I'm angry", an English man gets pissed when he drinks and pissed off when he is angry.
Visitors to the Royal Botanic Gardens might have to watch out for paralytic parrots, he warned. The city's rainbow lorikeets were getting tipsy on the nectar of a flowering tree, Schotia brachypetala, which, if fermented by the sun's heat, could produce alcohol.
Parrots enjoying the nectar ignored a Herald photographer, who was able to approach within a few centimetres.
Dr Larry Vogelnest, senior veterinarian at Sydney's Taronga Zoo said lorikeets in northern Australia were known to become intoxicated on fermenting fruit. "Basically they behave like drunk people, staggering around and unco-ordinated." He wondered if there was "something else in the nectar, some chemical agent, rather than ethanol ... that is making them high."
New Zealanders have a phrase similar to the one about the Oz parrots. The Reed Dictionary of New Zealand Slang mentions pissed as ten pigeons under a mockamock tree. We have no idea what a mockamock tree looks like, but its berries must be, well, just the berries.
America too has berry-imbibing birds. In 2001, on Interstate 5, in Shasta County, California, "drunk birds attempting to fly careened into car windshields and flew into pavement, effectively getting themselves killed over the weekend, leaving scores of bird remains along the highway."
The birds had apparently been eating the parneyi cotoneaster berry, a fermenting fruit that gave them an alcohol buzz. State Department of Transportation landscapers had planted the trees more than 20 years previously.
Highway Patrol officers said they hadn't managed to catch the drunken birds for FUI (flying under the influence).
And Nutty Birdwatcher's delightful BirdNature website says, "Flocks of Cedar Waxwings will strip the berries of a Bittersweet vine in a matter of minutes. If the berries have fermented, the birds actually get drunk and flop around until they sober up."