Avian Species Menu

Rainbow Lorikeet

Rainbow Lorikeet

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Species Organizations

National Audubon Society
Website: www.audubon.org
Cornell Lab of Orinthology
Website: www.birds.cornell.edu
The Avian Web
Website: www.avianweb.com

Order Passeriformes, Family Psittacidae
Scientific Name
Trichoglossus haematodus
Other Common Names
Species Description
The Rainbow Lorikeet is very colorful. Almost every color of the rainbow is found on the feathers of the rainbow lorikeet. They are not large birds, with a Rainbow Lorikeets length ranging from 25-30 cm (9.8-11.8 in) in size, and with a wingspan of about 17 cm (6.7 in). They vary significantly in coloration between the numerous subspecies. Their markings of the best known subspecies T. h. moluccanus are particularly striking: A dark blue or violet-blue head and stomach, a bright green back, tail and vent, and an orange breast and beak. Several subspecies have darker scalloped markings across the orange or red breast and the Weber's Lorikeet (T. h. weberi) is predominantly green.

Rainbow Lorikeets travel together as pairs mostly and often pick up calls to fly as a flock, then dispersing again in to pairs. Rainbow Lorikeets pairs dominate their feeding areas against other pairs. They chase off not only smaller birds such as the stealthful Australian Miner, they also chase off larger and powerful birds such as Magpies.

Although individual Rainbow Lorikeets are difficult to distinguish by their plumage they are possible to distinguish by their behavior, size and eye color differences at the very outside of the iris.

Rainbow Lorikeets feed mainly on pollen and nectar, and possess a tongue adapted especially for their particular diet. The end of the tongue is equipped with a papillate appendage adapted to collecting nectar from flowers. They are also frequent visitors at bird feeders that supply lorikeet-friendly treats, such as store-bought nectar, sunflower seeds, and fruits such as apples, grapes and pears.

In many places, including campsites and suburban gardens, wild lorikeets are so used to humans that they can be hand-fed. The Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary in Queensland, Australia, is noted for its numerous lorikeets, which number in the thousands. Around 8am and 4pm each day the birds gather in a huge, noisy flock in the park's main area. Visitors are encouraged to feed them a specially-prepared nectar, and the birds will happily settle on arms and heads to consume it. Wild Rainbow Lorikeets can also be hand-fed by visitors at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. Semi-tame lorikeets are common daily visitors in Sydney backyards, often by the dozens.

Its habitat is rainforest, coastal bush and woodland areas.

It's a species of Australasian parrot found in Australia, eastern Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. In Australia, it is common along the eastern seaboard, from Queensland to South Australia and northwest Tasmania.

As with any parrot, ownership of lorikeets must not be taken lightly. Captive lorikeets have a long lifespan, often in excess of 20 years. Their diet makes them particularly messy; they are well-known in aviculture for their liquid droppings and energetic and playful nature.

Lorikeets are very amusing and affectionate as pets, but much more demanding than other parrots. They do not easily eat seeds, so all the usual bird-feeding regimens are useless. Lorikeets in captivity are best fed a custom mixture composed typically of baby cereal, rice flour, breadcrumbs, glucose powder, skim milk powder, semolina (wheat hearts), pollen mixture and, optionally, other ingredients such as powdered whole egg and crushed whole-wheat biscuits. This is given in dry form, alongside a dish of water, and also mixed with water and lightly cooked into a thin porridge.

A mixture of honey and water will also be welcome. Be aware that after this mixture the birds will want to rinse their mouth with clean water and, if more than one at a time can feed on the mixture, water to bathe in because they spray their feed about a lot. The area around their bath needs to be waterproof for a diameter of at least a metre (three feet).

Fresh fruit of course should be available, and you will probably be compelled to share some of whatever you yourself are eating. This represents a lot of time and trouble, which means that caring for a lorikeet is a very big and long-term commitment. The reward for this is a playful and devoted companion.

Other things to be concerned with if considering a lorikeet as a pet are: they are very prolific with their droppings, which aren't too bad if wiped up immediately, but this is nearly impossible due to the frequency; they are very rambunctious birds and not easy to put up with inside a home; an angry or happy lorikeet has an extremely powerful bite.

Lories and lorikeets have specialized brush-tipped tongues for feeding on nectar and soft fruits. They can feed from the flowers of about 5,000 species of plants and use their specialised tongues to take the nectar. The tip of their tongues have tufts of papillae (extremely fine hairs), which collect nectar and pollen.

Lorikeets have tapered wings and pointed tails that allow them to fly easily and display great agility. They also have strong feet and legs. They tend to be hyperactive and clownish in personality both in captivity and the wild.

Lories and lorikeets are usually classified as the subfamily, Loriinae, the most clearly distinct of the several rather uncertain subfamilies within the true parrots (Psittacidae) family. Some authorities regard the differences between the Loriinae and the other parrots as sufficient to justify giving the group full family status, in which case, following the biological naming conventions, they become the Loriidae, and are placed alongside the remaining true parrots (Psittacidae) and the cockatoos (Cacatuidae) within the parrots (Psittaciformes) order.

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