Learn About the
SPECIES: Trichoglossus moluccanus
POPULATION SIZE: UNKNOWN
LIFE SPAN: 7-30 YRS
WEIGHT: 75-157 G
LENGTH: 25-30 CM
About the Rainbow Lorikeet
The Rainbow lorikeet is a medium-sized colorful parrot found in Australia. Its head is deep blue with a greenish-yellow nuchal collar, and the rest of the upper parts (wings, back, and tail) are green. The chest is orange/yellow in color. The belly is deep blue, and the thighs and rump are green. In flight a yellow wing-bar contrasts clearly with the red underwing coverts. The males and the females in this species are similar in appearance and juveniles have a black beak, which gradually brightens to orange in the adults.
Rainbow lorikeets belong to a family of true parrots which are characterized by barring, sometimes prominently, on the upper breast.
The terms “lory” and “lorikeet” are actually subjective, like the “parrot” and “parakeet”. Species with longer tapering tails are usually called “lorikeets”, while species with short blunt tails are generally referred to as “lories”.
The Rainbow lorikeet was one of the species of parrots appearing in the first edition of The Parrots of the World. Then and now lories and lorikeets are described as some of the most beautiful species of parrot.
Rainbow 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 specialized tongues to take the nectar. The tip of their tongues have tufts of papillae (extremely fine hairs), which collect nectar and pollen.
Rainbow lorikeets like to feed on papaya and mangoes already opened by fruit bats.
Many fruit orchard owners consider Rainbow lorikeets a pest, as they often fly in groups and strip trees containing fresh fruit. In urban areas, these parrots create nuisance noise and foul outdoor areas and vehicles with droppings.
Where Lories Live
Rainbow lorikeets are found along the eastern seaboard, from northern Queensland to South Australia. They live in rainforests, mangroves, woodlands, coastal bushes, and in urban areas.
How Lorikeets Live
Rainbow lorikeets are social, active, and noisy birds. They often travel together in pairs and occasionally respond to calls to fly as a flock, then disperse again into pairs. They are territorial and each pair defends its feeding and nesting area aggressively against other Rainbow lorikeets and other bird species. They chase off not only smaller birds, but also larger birds such as the Australian magpie. Rainbow lorikeets feed and roost in treetops and rarely come to the ground. They are very strong flyers and daily travel up to 30 km between feeding and roosting sites.
What Lorikeets Eat
Rainbow lorikeets are herbivores (frugivores, palynivores, nectarivores) and feed mainly on fruit, pollen, and nectar from flowers. They also eat crops and are frequent visitors at bird feeders placed in gardens, which supply store-bought nectar, sunflower seeds, and fruits such as apples, grapes, and pears
Rainbow lorikeets are monogamous and remain paired for long periods, if not for life. In southern Australia, breeding usually occurs from late winter to early summer (August to January). In other parts of Australia, breeding has been recorded every month except March, varying from region to region due to changes in food availability and climate.
How Many Lorikeets are There?
Despite being widespread throughout their native range, Rainbow lorikeets are threatened by habitat loss and capture for the international parrot trade.
According to IUCN, the Rainbow lorikeet is common and widespread throughout its range but no overall population estimate is available. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List but its numbers today are decreasing.