Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Field Guide to the Tourists of Southeast Asia

Touristus Touristus
The Fat Bottomed Watcherbird, a.k.a. the Tourist: (Touristus Touristus)
A plump, colorful, non-intrusive species known for its varied yet strict migratory patterns and strong tendency to stick close to the flock. Though the Touristus Touristus migrates to a different destination in each of its annual forays from its native nesting grounds, it does so only briefly, rarely for more than a three week period, and only as part of a flock, usually consisting of 15 to 30 Watcherbirds, which remain grouped tightly together for the duration. Interestingly, upon returning to their native nesting grounds, these flocks disperse, never to see their flock-mates again. Aside from their distinctive flocking habits the Touristus Touristus is most easily identified by its clean, bright plumage, a fat wallet and its appearance exclusively in well-established roosting areas. Though not a gregarious species, often treating the locals with noisy disdain, the Touristus Touristus is nevertheless a highly prized species at its migratory destinations due to its habit of defecating money when pleased. The Fat Bottomed Watcherbird is ordinarily welcomed and treated with great care by the locals who often go to extraordinary lengths to entice or even trick it into roosting at their location.

Touristus Denialus (alt: Touristus Touristus Denialus)
The Lesser Fat Bottomed Watcherbird, a.k.a. the Traveler: (Touristus Denialus)
Often indistinguishable from the Touristus Touristus, so much so that some experts have concluded the Touristus Denialus not to be a separate species but a mere sub-species of the Touristus Touristus (i.e. Touristus Touristus Denialus.) This species has a similar appearance, tends to travel to the same destinations and stays about as long at each destination as the Touristus Touristus. Nevertheless there are some distinguishing features. Unlike the Touristus Touristus, the Touristus Denialus tends to move in much smaller groups, sometimes only in pairs or individually and is much more likely to be observed away from the well-established roosting grounds. Comparatively speaking, their plumage is not as bright and their wallet is not as fat as the Touristus Touristus and they rarely defecate money. Most distinctively, when in the presence of a flock of Touristus Touristus, the Touristus Denialus will cling together and sing 'Notmeeeeee, Notmeeeeee, Notmeeeee' repeatedly. They are known to continue to mutter the 'Notmeeee' call amongst themselves for hours after the Touristus Touristus has departed. Though generally welcomed by locals at their migratory destinations, they are not considered a particularly desirable species and are largely ignored. The female of the species is especially vulnerable to exploitation by the locals and is often hunted by local beggars, children and volunteer organizations for her cache of funds.

Touristus Vulgaris
The Dirty Plumed Tit, a.k.a. the Backpacker: (Touristus Vulgaris)
A cliquey, communal, migratory, low-end species with a permanently engorged backpack, a tight money-belt and a haughty attitude about any species outside of the clique. Considered a pest species in many countries, particularly in Asia. They tend to travel in pairs or small groups along well-trodden routes and roost for extended periods in great raucous flocks that can take over entire islands or sections of cities. They are in a constant state of shedding plastic bottles. They thrive on a diet of beer and whatever is cheapest though they do require regular feedings of banana pancakes to maintain health. Due to their docile and naive nature they are occasionally baited, trapped and consumed by the locals. The Dirty Plumed Tit displays chameleonesque qualities, sporting a tousled plumage which vaguely mimics both the local inhabitants and the now extinct Touristus Hippius (i.e. the Hippie.) Their migratory cycle is determined by the complex interplay of the monsoons and the school year and their primary migratory patterns follow those of the extinct Hippies, though most of the roosting grounds along the traditional migratory routes have been environmentally and culturally decimated, largely due to the adaptive success of Touristus Vulgaris.

Touristus Phallicus
The Dogbird, a.k.a. the Sex Tourist: (Touristus Phallicus)
A rogue migratory species, usually traveling individually, often welcomed by the locals at its migratory destinations, but shunned by other members of the Touristus family. As the name suggests, this species displays great sexual disparity with over 90% of the observed specimens being male. The stereotypical Dogbird is rotund and sometimes pear-shaped, usually a middle-aged male, sporting bright flowery plumage and Faginesque facial features. But in fact Dogbirds are multi-varied in appearance and age and are more accurately identified by behavior and migratory patterns. This species migrates the year round, but to a much more limited range of destinations than other members of the Touristus family, including Southeast Asia, the Philippines, India and Sri Lanka, Russia and Costa Rica. Females of the species frequent different destinations. Also dissimilar to other species of Touristus which tend to engage in a variety of behavioral activities, the Touristus Phallicus generally shows little interest in local culture and engages in a much more limited range of behaviors, focusing primarily on non-productive mating behaviors with the locals. The Touristus Phallicus is considered an exploitative species by many experts, similar to the Catbird which lays its eggs in the nests of other species. But the Touristus Phallicus is exploited by the locals as well, often falling prey to its own narrow range of behaviors. Properly manipulated, some have been known to disgorge their entire fortune to a local bird less than half its age.


  1. Excellent studies of the migratory species in Cambodia. Looking forward to writing of the new discoveries.