Intoxicated Squirrel

It is always a nice feeling to walk in Lalbagh. It is not just birds, butterflies, and bees that attract us, even the trees and flowers are fascinating there, especially in the spring. During one of the walks, I came across a tree with beautiful deep red flowers. More than the flowers, what attracted me were the squirrels on the tree. Usually squirrels are very active and do not spend much time in a place unless sleeping. Two or three squirrels in this tree were sitting without moving. First I thought they had slept off, but later realized that they are awake and the one I was observing was awake and starring back at me. I was surprised to see them in the state of intoxication and was curious to know why.

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I shared the photos I clicked with Karthikeyan, Chief Naturalist of Jungle Lodges & Resorts, and explained my observation. He got back to me saying that the tree is Schotia brachypetala or Huilboerboon. Interesting fact that I got to know is that this tree has an alternative name called “Drunken Parrot Tree”. This name is derived from the large numbers of parrots that are attracted to the tree during its flowering season. Also, the individual flowers contain so much nectar that it has tendency to ferment even before the birds can eat it all, resulting in a mild narcotic effect on the birds. This answered my question on intoxicated state of squirrels on that tree. This tree is also called “Weeping Tree” as good quantity of nectar rains from the flowers when the tree is shaken instead of the foliage.

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One more new learning and as I believe nature never fails to surprise me!