Rainbow Lorikeet

Photo: FNPW Image Library

Rainbow Lorikeet

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What do Rainbow Lorikeets look like?

Rainbow Lorikeets have bright red beaks and eyes with colourful feathers. Their blue head and belly, green wings and orange-yellow stomach make them a very colourful rainbow. Though males and females behave differently, it’s very hard to tell them apart just by their appearance. They are often found in flocks and tend to roost in large groups. 

Where are Rainbow Lorikeets found?

These colourful birds can be seen almost anywhere along the east coast and northern Australia, both in towns and in the bush. They are often seen just on dusk, arriving by the hundreds at their favourite roosting place, usually in tall eucalypts.

Fast facts:

  1. The Rainbow lorikeet doesn’t eat seeds, which can be bad for them. Instead, it uses its bristle brush tongue to get sweet sticky nectar and pollen from deep down in the bottom of native flowers.
  2. Hanging upside down, aerial acrobatics or bobbing, bowing and prancing are just some of the displays that the male Rainbow Lorikeet tries to impress the female with a display of during mating season.

Rainbow Lorikeet – the full story

The playful games and bright multicoloured feathers of the Rainbow Lorikeet, make them the ‘clowns of the bird world’.

The Rainbow Lorikeet’s tongue is like a bristle brush. Unlike many other parrots, it doesn’t eat seeds -in fact, seeds are bad for lorikeets. Instead, it uses its bristle brush tongue to extract sweet sticky nectar and pollen from deep within native flowers. Like a young child with a messy ice-cream cone, lorikeets get the nectar and pollen all over their heads.

Rainbow Lorikeets live in coastal regions across northern and eastern Australia. There is a local population in Perth which is believed to have started from an aviary release. They nest in hollow limbs of eucalypt trees on chewed, decayed wood.

The best way to attract Rainbow Lorikeets to your garden is to grow native plants.

Putting a bird bath in your yard is also a good idea, because lorikeets love to splash around and clean their feathers after feeding.

Don’t give Rainbow Lorikeets other kinds of food, such as biscuits, bread or seeds. They may become dependent upon these sources of food and become less inclined to forage in the wild. Eating seeds can actually cause damage to their tongue and beak. Let them feed on native plants.

Rainbow Lorikeets love:

  • Pollen and nectar – their favourite foods are nectar and pollen from native flowers such as grevilleas, callistemon (bottlebrushes) and banksias. Nectar gives them energy, and pollen provides protein for healthy feathers. They also feed on fruits and small insects.
  • Trees with hollows – these are perfect for making nests.

But they don’t like:

  • The wrong food – grinding seeds and grain can cause damage to their beak and tongue, so it’s important to let them eat food from the wild.
  • Other birds – a lorikeet will chase a much bigger bird away from food.
  • Cats, dogs and foxes – these animals can disturb or chase lorikeets while they’re feeding.

Try to:

  • Plant flowering native shrubs, like banksias, grevilleas and bottlebrushes.
  • Encourage your neighbours to plant native trees across your neighbourhood – they will eventually provide a larger habitat.
  • Take time out to watch lorikeets – it’s a pleasure to watch them clowning around.

Avoid:

  • Feeding lorikeets, particularly processed foods such as biscuits or bread. Although they have a sweet tooth, their digestive system cannot cope with artificially refined sugar.
  • Removing trees that have hollows suitable for nest sites.

Don’t be surprised if:

  • You see lorikeets feeding at the same time each day.
  • They nest in a tree hollow in your backyard.
  • You hear shrill shrieking notes as they fly swiftly overhead.
  • They hang upside down, and duck and weave like acrobats
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