Farmers in Madhya Pradesh, India have had it tough recently. The region has been suffering from uneven, spotty rainfall. And now, growers say they are incurring enormous losses due to groups of “opium-addicted” parrots.
Nandkishore, a local cultivator stated that “one poppy flower gives around 20-25 grams of opium. But a large group of parrots feed on these plants around 30-40 times a day. Some birds have been recorded tearing into unripe poppy pods to get at the opium-rich milk inside, while some use their beaks and claws to break the pods away from the stalks of the plants and then fly away with whole poppy pods.” The Daily Mail reported that some birds have even trained themselves not to squawk when descending on the fields, stealthily “swooping in and out like silent ninjas.”
These avian raids have greatly diminished the plant’s yield. Nandkishore said that multiple requests for assistance made to district officials have gone unanswered: “Nobody is listening to our problems. Who will compensate for our losses?” India is one of the very few places in the world where licensed opium cultivation is allowed.
To reduce the parrots plundering the farmers have been forced to guard their fields both day and night. Nandkishore added: “We have tried making loud sounds and even use firecrackers to scare the birds. But nothing has helped.”
The parrots often become visibly intoxicated. Doped-up birds have been observed crashing into tree branches and lying dazed and incapacitated in the fields, most eventually flying off again when the narcotic effects wear off.
This opioid crisis really is for the birds. Poppy-pilfering parrots? What’s next, marijuana-mooching mockingbirds?
“Polly want a cracker? Polly want an effing cracker? You’re damn right I do!"
“Squawk! Like, dude, pass the Cheetos. Squawk!”