Rainbow lorikeet

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Rainbow lorikeet
Rainbow lorikeet.jpg
Trichoglossus moluccanus
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Psittaciformes
Family: Psittaculidae
Genus: Trichoglossus
T. moluccanus
Binomial name
Trichoglossus moluccanus
(Gmelin, 1788)

The rainbow lorikeet (Trichoglossus haematodus) is an Australasian parrot. This brightly colored parrot lives on the east coast of Australia, eastern Indonesia (Maluku and Western New Guinea), Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

In Australia, it is common along the eastern seaboard, from Queensland to South Australia and Tasmania. Its habitat is rainforest, coastal bush and woodland areas.

It has a number of subspecies.[2] Some classifications list about 20 subspecies.

In some places, such as Western Australia and the North Island of New Zealand, they have been artificially introduced, and are seen as a pest species.[3][4]

Description[change | change source]

The rainbow lorikeet is a large lorikeet, about 12 in (305 mm) tall. It is has green feathers on its back, wings and tail. It has bright red feathers on the chest, with orange and yellow feathers on the sides of its chest. It has deep blue feathers on its abdomen and head. It also has stripes of yellow among its green feathers. It has a bright red bill with grey legs and feet.

Feeding[change | change source]

Rainbow lorikeets eat mostly fruit, pollen and nectar. They have a tongue adapted for their particular food. Nectar from eucalyptus is important in Australia. Other important sources of nectar are Pittosporum, Grevillea, Spathodea campanulata (African tulip-tree), and Metroxylon sagu (sago palm). In Melanesia, coconuts are a very important source of food, and rainbow lorikeets are important pollinators of coconuts. They also eat the fruits of Ficus, Trema, Mutingia, as well as papaya and mangoes already opened by fruit bats. They also eat crops such as apples, and will take maize and sorghum. They will also visit bird feeders placed in gardens.[5][6]

In many places, including campsites and suburban gardens, wild lorikeets are so used to humans that they can be fed by hand.

Semi-tame lorikeets are common daily visitors in many backyards in Sydney. But, many people are ignorant of the food they need to eat, and feed them bread or bread coated with honey. Bread and honey do not have the nutrients, vitamins and minerals that the rainbow lorikeet needs, and this practice can lead to health and feather problems in young lorikeets. Packet mixes with a nutritional mix that is good for feeding lorikeets are generally available from vets and pet stores.[6][7]

Breeding[change | change source]

Rainbow lorikeets are monogamous and pair for life. Male and female rainbow lorikeets look almost identical. They are strongly territorial, and chase off other birds.

In southern Australia, breeding usually happens from late winter to early summer (August to January). In other places in Australia, breeding has been recorded in every month except March. It depends on changes in food availability and climate. Nesting sites can include hollows of tall trees such as eucalyptus, palm trunks, or overhanging rock. One lorikeet population in the Admiralty Islands nests in holes in the ground on predator-free islets. Pairs sometimes nest in the same tree with other rainbow lorikeet pairs, or other types of bird. Rainbow lorikeets lay between one and three eggs, which are incubated for around 25 days. Incubation is carried out by the female alone.

Status[change | change source]

Overall, the rainbow lorikeet is widespread and often common. According to the annual Birdlife Australia census, it is the most commonly observed bird in Australia. It is considered to be a least concern species by BirdLife International.

As a pest[change | change source]

The rainbow lorikeet was accidentally released into the southwest of Western Australia near the University of Western Australia in the 1960s, and they have since been classified as a pest.[8]

A feral population of rainbow lorikeets was established in New Zealand after an Auckland resident illegally released many rainbow lorikeets in the area in the 1990s, which started breeding in the wild.[9] The Department of Conservation was concerned that rainbow lorikeets would outcompete native honeyeaters. They could also be a possible threat to nearby islands like the Little Barrier Island. They began killing the feral population in 2000.[9]

Many owners of fruit orchards think of rainbow lorikeets as a pest, as they often fly in groups and take fresh fruit from trees. In urban areas, the birds create nuisance noise and poop on outdoor areas and vehicles.[10]

In Western Australia, the rainbow lorikeet competes with native bird species. This includes domination of food sources and competition for scarce nesting hollows.[10] Different types of birds such as the purple-crowned lorikeet, the Carnaby's black cockatoo, and the Australian ringneck are affected.[10]

References[change | change source]

  1. BirdLife International (2014). "Trichoglossus moluccanus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2014. Retrieved 4 January 2015.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  2. Lendon, Alan H. (1978). Australian parrots in field and aviary. Sydney: Angus and Robertson. ISBN 0207124248.
  3. "ScienceWA Rainbow lorikeet joins Perth pest list". Archived from the original on 2014-07-26. Retrieved 2015-01-03.
  4. "Rainbow Lorikeet pest" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-03-21. Retrieved 2015-01-03.
  5. Handbook of the birds of the world. Hoyo, Josep del., Elliott, Andrew., Sargatal, Jordi., Cabot, José. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ©1992-©2013. ISBN 84-87334-10-5. OCLC 861071869. Check date values in: |date= (help)CS1 maint: others (link)
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Rainbow Lorikeet Diet, Habitat & Reproduction -". NSW: Reptilepark.com.au. Archived from the original on 2016-03-25. Retrieved 2020-08-28.
  7. "Feeding Lorikeets". Burke's Backyard.
  8. "ScienceWA Rainbow lorikeet joins Perth pest list". Wayback Machine. Archived from the original on 2014-07-26.
  9. 9.0 9.1 "Animal pests A–Z". New Zealand Department of Conservation. Archived from the original on 2015-01-14.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 The status and impact of the Rainbow Lorikeet (Trichoglossus haematodus moluccanus) in South-West Western Australia. Tamra Chapman.

Other websites[change | change source]