The Tippler’s Hangout!
There aren’t too many places where junior citizens can wet their beaks, but if you’re suitably small (preferably below 14 cm, like those check-in baggage specs at airports), decked out in green with a crimson or orange tail-piece, and are spiffily turned out with a formal blue scarf (dress code for guys only; the broads don’t need the blue bib), you’ll have no problem gaining admission to the myriad hangouts in Coorg. If you’ve ticked all the descriptive boxes above, there’s no way you can be anybody but a Vernal Hanging Parrot, known to friends as a Lorikeet. Strictly speaking, this is India’s only parrot species, with all the others being parakeets, and that’s an accomplishment that deserves a toast. Ladies and gentlemen, if you’ve ever swilled a tot of toddy, raise your glasses, for the hero of this piece is a connoisseur of that particular beverage. While hunting for their favourite fruit or berry, Lorikeets are known to furtively dip into any pot of toddy left unattended by the palm tree tappers. They then move on innocently to their mocktail of fruit juice and nectar, but the game is up shortly: often the time it takes the toddy to get to work, and the net result is a happily inebriated bird that staggers along and keeps repeating himself in a slurred warble to anybody who’ll listen. When sober, though, these birds are very shy and rarely seen. Vernal Hanging Parrots, for the uninitiated, have earned their name because they live life hanging onto trees, and even go to sleep hanging upside down. They rarely fly, preferring to use their beaks for climbing up the tree, where they reside as a small happy troop, within sight of their favourite fruits and the occasional palm flavoured manna from heaven.
We at Orange County have loved sharing this story with you, and shall bring you one every fortnight, as part of our Responsible Tourism Initiatives to raise awareness about the nature and culture of the environments we operate in.