Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Rainbow Lorikeet

Once again it is Wednesday and time for my Australian bird post. 
This week I have chosen to show you the very colourful bird, the

 Rainbow Lorikeet - Trichoglossus haematodus 
 

It is a species of Australasian parrot found in 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 northwest Tasmania. Its habitat is rain forest, coastal bush and woodland areas. 

Several taxa traditionally listed as subspecies of the Rainbow Lorikeet are increasingly treated as separate species. 
Rainbow Lorikeets are true parrots, within the Psittacoidea super family in the order Psittaciformes.
 
The Rainbow Lorikeet is a medium-sized parrot, with the length ranging from 9.8-11.8 ins in size, and has a wingspan of about 6.7 ins. The weight varies from 2.6–5.5 ozs. The plumage of the nominate race, as with all subspecies, is very bright. The head is deep blue with a greenish-yellow nuchal collar, and the rest of the upper parts (wings, back and tail) are deep green. The chest is red with blue-black barring. The belly is deep green, and the thighs and rump are yellow with deep green barring. In flight a yellow wing-bar contrasts clearly with the red under wing coverts.

 
There is little to visually distinguish between the sexes, however to a keen observer of their colouring and behaviour, their dimorphism is readily apparent.

Juveniles have a black beak, which gradually brightens to orange in the adults.

 

Upon closer observation of both their colouring, size and behaviour however, it is possible to determine the sex of a Rainbow Lorikeet.
 
This process is made infinitely easier when one observes them in pairs, however the general rules are that a male will have a greater concentration of dark orange on his breast as opposed to the more pronounced bleeding of yellow into orange of a female.
The male will also be more robust across the breast and traditionally have a thicker, more square head whilst the female sports a more rounded visage. 
 
 
Rainbow Lorikeets are monogamous and pair for life.
 
Rainbow Lorikeets often travel together in pairs and occasionally respond to calls to fly as a flock, then disperse again into pairs. Rainbow Lorikeet pairs defend their feeding and nesting areas aggressively against other Rainbow Lorikeets and other bird species. They chase off not only smaller birds such as the Noisy Miner, but also larger and more powerful birds such as the Australian Magpie.

 
  When feeding in a flock during breeding season, the male will often puff up and produce a threatening display, hopping around his partner as she feeds and ensuring that competitors for food do not interrupt her ingestion of food.

Diet 

Rainbow Lorikeets feed mainly on fruit, 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 gathering pollen and nectar from flowers. 
Nectar from eucalyptus is important in Australia, other important nectar sources are Pittosporum, Grevillea, Spathodea campanulata (African Tulip-tree), and sago palm.  In Melanesia coconuts are very important food sources, and Rainbow Lorikeets are important pollinators of these.  They also consume 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 raid maize and sorghum.  They are also frequent visitors at bird feeders placed in gardens, which supply 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.
 

 Semi-tame Lorikeets are common daily visitors in many Sydney backyards, though many people, ignorant of their dietary requirements, feed them bread or bread coated with honey. This is an inadequate source of the nutrients, vitamins and minerals that the Rainbow Lorikeet requires and can lead to health and feather formation issues in young Lorikeets.   

 

Packet mixes with a nutritional mix suitable for feeding lorikeets are generally available from vets and pet stores.


 
 
Breeding

In Australia, breeding usually occurs during spring (September to December), but can vary from region to region with changes in food availability and climate. Nesting sites are variable and can include hollows of tall trees such as eucalyptus, palm trunks, or overhanging rock.  One 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 bird species.   The clutch size is between one and three eggs, which are incubated for around 25 days.   Incubation duties are carried out by the female alone.

 
Status

Overall, the Rainbow Lorikeet remains widespread and often common. It is therefore considered to be of Least Concern by BirdLife International. The status for some localised subspecies is more precarious, with especially T. h. rosenbergii (which possibly is worthy of treatment as a separate species) being threatened by habitat loss and capture for the parrot trade.

 
As a pest
 
The Rainbow Lorikeet was accidentally released into the southwest of the state of Western Australia near the University of Western Australia in the 1960s and they have since been classified as a pest.  Rainbow Lorikeets can also be found in New Zealand, particularly around the Auckland area. New Zealand's Department of Conservation has declared them a pest and is implementing methods to control and eradicate them.

 
Many fruit orchard owners consider them a pest, as they often fly in groups and strip trees containing fresh fruit. In urban areas, the birds create nuisance noise and fouling of outdoor areas and vehicles with droppings.

 
 
 
 
In Western Australia, a major impact of the Rainbow Lorikeet is competition with indigenous bird species. This includes domination of feeding resources, and competition for increasingly scarce nesting hollows.  Birds such as the Purple-crowned Lorikeet and Carnaby's Black-Cockatoo are adversely affected or displaced.
 
 The short video can be accessed at
 
 
If there is a black space below, click it and the video will appear.
 
  
 
I hope you liked seeing and learning a bit about the Rainbow Lorikeet today.  The first Lorikeet was one of two that came to my duaghter's garden in Sydney every day to get their grapes. 
 
Many thanks for visiting.
 
I enjoyed the autumn colours on yesterday's post as much as you all did and I thank you for all your comment.  The trees were all Maple.
 
As requested, someday I will do a post about the C.S Lewis tour but maybe not for a while as it is going to take quite a bit of work.
 
I am linking to Wild Bird Wednesday today.

39 comments:

  1. another very well written series Margaret; there's not anything left to know about the Rainbow; well done

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  2. Ma chère Margaret vous photos sont d'une beauté incroyables, vraiment magnifiques!!!
    Very very nice post! Thanks & Welcome for your comment and your next visit to my blog.
    Have a nice day! Cath.

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  3. HI Carole MAny thanks for your kind comments. You know, CArole, there probably is more to be learned and I usually discover it after I have posted!

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  4. Great information - this is why taxonomy is important!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

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    1. hi Stewart. Yes I agree. There was quite a bit more I could have written about the different sub species but I thought that would be too much!!! many thanks for comment and hosing WBW. have a great evening. I am on train to Belfast to a lunch app. Cheers

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  5. Splendid post on the Rainbow Lorikeet Margaret :) I remember meeting some at a butterfly garden in Florida years ago. We were allowed to feed them and three of them became very interested in my shoe laces and tried to undo them. Maybe they thought they were tasty worms :).

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  6. hi. Denise. great to be able to see these birds and close hand ( or foot!). Many thanks for comment and glad you liked the bird as well as the info.

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  7. LOVE those colors! What a beautiful bird!

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  8. I would absolutely fall over in my tracks if I ever saw any bird so gorgeous around my house. Beautiful capture, and the information so helpful with seeing this gorgeous bird

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  9. i can imagine they would be very destructive to fruit crops, but they are so beautiful.

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  10. gosh it isn't easy being a bird! These photos are wonderful and their colouring is really amazing. (Kim Klassen, or Katseye for textures plus a million others :-) almost too much information sometimes .

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  11. I have seen posts about the Lorikeet many times, but never had everything about it explained so clearly. They are beautiful birds, one that most birders would love to have around without thought to their potential of being a pest. Our wildlife has been so manipulated by man's intrusion into their existence ... a bird like this should never have become a pest. We are so far from the Balance of Nature at this point, I don't think we will ever regain it ... Sad but true. Thank you for this post, I found it very interesting and pest or no, I love the Lorikeet.

    Andrea @ From The Sol

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    1. HI Andrea You comments always encourage me. My computer or blogger is laying up so I am trying to use my Mini IPad which is NOT easy as I cannot see it as well and spelling is out of the window!!!!.

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  12. Lovely Rainbow, you couldn't be more radiant, I love it.

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  13. Beautiful pictures of the rainbow lorikeet.
    Great that they eat out of hand.
    Greetings Irma

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  14. Aren't they stunningly gorgeous! A man from Australia once sent me a photo of the lorikeet. I had never seen even a photo of one before. Beautiful!

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  15. Such brilliant colour! They almost don't look real.

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  16. Wonderful birds to see Margaret... stunning colours.

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  17. A lovely series of shots Margaret!
    I just can not imagine living where these birds would be backyard visitors. Their vibrant colors would brighten any garden. Sad to hear they are considered a pest in some areas.
    Thank you for your lovely detailed post.

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  18. Great photos of beautiful birds. But giving them grapes to eat??? They find enough to make mischief with in my yard without feeding them anything special! They are noisy, and aggressive - and definitely fun to have around.

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  19. I love them. Thanks Margaret. We are too far inland to see them often - but greet them with pleasure when they do visit.

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  20. I really do wish they would come and be a pest over here..... what a rainbow of colour! stunning bird, lovely post Margaret

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  21. The Rainbow Lorikeet is one of the most colorful birds I've seen, and I think your photos are beautiful. I was surprised to learn that it is a pest, although after reading about how it was introduced and some of its habits I can understand why.

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  22. Beautiful birds, Margaret. I have a couple of blog friends from Australia --and one of them has talked quite a bit about their Lorikeets. But---I didn't know all of the history… I cannot imagine a bird that gorgeous being a PEST….. I would love them.
    Hugs,
    Betsy

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  23. I'm a sucker for multi-colored birds, and this one is no exception. It's absolutely gorgeous.

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  24. It's hard to imagine a bird this beautiful being a pest! Wonderful photos and info, Margaret!

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  25. It's a gorgeous bird! The colours are amazing. Lovely photos, Margaret!

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  26. Margaret, thanks for sharing the information on the beautiful Lorikeet. I would love to see this bird in the wild. Great photos and post.

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  27. With colours like that there really couldn't be any other name could there? Nice pictures and very informative commentary Margaret.

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  28. A very interesting post Margaret of a beautiful bird with some great images :)

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  29. That is so neat, and what a beautiful bird they are...those colours so vibrant. We have Lorikeets at our zoo, but I like the thoughts of seeing birds and other animals in their own habitat~

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  30. HI TO ALL THE PEOPLE WHO HAVE LEFT COMMENTS ON THIS POST. I APPRECIATE EVERY ONE OF THEM. AS MY COMPUTER IS PLAYING UP, I AM WRITING A BIG "THANKS YOU" TO YOU ALL. DON'T THINK THERE WERE ANY QUESSTIONS I HAD TO ANSWER SO HOPE YOU ALL HAVE A GOOD DAY OR EVENING DEPENDIG IN WHAT PART OF THE WORLD YOU LIKE IN.

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  31. Very informative post. What a pretty bird. It's funny that I think of it as a pet store bird and forget that they are wild somewhere in the world! If they are native to Australia, why are they considered a pest in the SW, and why are they a pest in Auckland, New Zealand?

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    1. Hi Kathie. When they were introduced to New Zealand as cage birds and were NOT supposed to be released but they were with devastating results. Perhaps if you wish to know more look up this web site. Http;//www.dpiw.tas.gov.au/ inter.nsf/Attachments/CSTS-8K73SV/$FILE/Rainbow%20Lorikeet%20final.pdf. hope this helps answer your question. thanks for comment.

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    2. So, they are not native to New Zealand? That makes sense then. Thanks for the link.

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  32. I know what that is like...a computer that is acting up....good luck.

    AND is that YOU feeding the parrot? How awesome. What beautiful images Margaret.

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  33. hi Anni. Yesthat is me a few years ago feeding the Lorikeets. Thanks for comment.

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  34. Hard to believe such a beautiful bird could be considered a pest. Great shots, Margaret!

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