Rainbow Lorikeet
Rainbow Lorikeet

The Rainbow Lorikeet, 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 rainforest, coastal bush and woodland areas.

The Rainbow Lorikeet is a medium sized parrot, with the length ranging from 25–30 cm (9.8-11.8 in) in size, and has a wingspan of about 17 cm (6.7 in).

There is little to visually distinguish between the sexes. Juveniles have a black beak which gradually brightens to orange in the adults.

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.

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 collecting nectar from flowers. Nectar from eucalyptus are 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. The Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary in Queensland, Australia, is noted for its thousands of lorikeets. 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 people's 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 many Sydney backyards.