(Trichoglossus haematodus)

FUN FACT

Although considered a “true parrot” (members of the Psittacoidea superfamily within the order Pisttaciformes), Lorikeets are specially adapted for a diet consisting mostly of nectar and pollen. The tip of a Lorikeet’s tongue has a collection of tiny hair-like structures called papilla that help them excavate pollen and nectar from flowers. This adaptation is why you’ll sometimes hear Lorikeets referred to as “brush-tongued parrots.”

     

Rainbow Lorikeets couldn’t have a more appropriate name.  These small, active parrots are among the most brightly colored in the bird world – as though someone used a whole box of crayons while designing them!

Lorikeets are native to Australia and eastern Indonesia, where they live in large, noisy flocks. Nectar from the blooming trees such as the eucalyptus, African Tulip-tree and cheesewood is an important food source for lorikeets. As a result, lorikeets are an important pollinator for these and other trees.

Lorikeets will also figs, apples, and sorghum, and sometimes papaya and mango fruits which have already had their tough skins opened by fruit bats.  Because of this, they are sometimes considered a crop pest by farmers with orchards.

The National Aviary is home to two of the many subspecies of Rainbow Lorikeet – the Swainson’s (Trichoglossus haematodus moluccanus) and the Edward’s (T. haematodus capistratus).  The Swainson’s Rainbow Lorikeet (native to Eastern Australia and Tasmania) is mostly green, but with a deep blue head, a yellowish collar, and a red chest.  The Edward’s (native to the Lesser Sunda Islands north of Australia) is almost a faded version of the Swainson’s, with a head gently shaded by blue and a striking yellow front.  In fact, some sources argue for renaming the Edward’s Rainbow Lorikeet the Marigold Lorikeet and making it a separate species.

Distribution

Australia, Moluccas, and throughout Indonesia.

Habitat

Rainforest, coastal brush and woodlands.

Diet

Nectar and pollen from flowers, as well as fruits and occasional grains.

Breeding

Rainbow Lorikeets breed in the spring in Australia (Sept – Dec), laying 1-3 eggs in a tree hollow. The female alone incubates the eggs for 25 days, and both parents care for the young until they fledge at around eight weeks.

Status

Not Under Threat (Least Concern)

At the Aviary

Feed the Rainbow Lorikeets in their exhibit located in Canary's Call, beyond the Tropical Forest exhibit.