Trichoglossus haematodus moluccanus

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Trichoglossus haematodus moluccanus — Rainbow lorikeet, Aquarium of the Pacific, Long Beach, California

18 Comments

I went over to the Lorikeet Forest exihibit at the Aquarium of the Pacific on Friday: I think I recognize these three, even.

Yeah, remarkable bird, the Rainbow Lorikeet, beautiful plumage, innit?

Wheels said:

Yeah, remarkable bird, the Rainbow Lorikeet, beautiful plumage, innit?

I was so embarrassed that day, too, I mistook the Rainbow lorikeets, and the lone red and violent-naped lorikeet for male and female Eclectus parrots.

We get these beautiful birds in our garden. We put out seed for them and sometimes bread. Occasionally they eat it out of our hands and get annoyed when there’s none left. Shame to see them caged.

Having been introduced into Western Australia from its native range (south-east Queensland through to the Victoria-South Australian border, inhabiting open forest), it has become a severe pest, being aggressive and noisy, and occurring in large flocks. It isn’t successful in the open, dry hardwood forests of WA, but it is found wherever humans provide better pickings, esp. fruit crops and grain. Farmers and orchardists hate them.

Rainbow lorikeet are indeed beautiful birds. It may interest folks to know that, despite their colourful and cute appearance, they are also quite aggressive towards other bird species. They will often intimidate other birds with their numbers and drive them from food sources. Their natural habitat tends to be open woodlands or heathlands so they adapt very well to suburbia or around parklands. Here at the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney they can be a pest to restaurant or cafe-goers. Having a fondness for sweet things, they regularly land on tables in search of sugar packets and rip them open to devour the contents on the tabletop. Though they can be easily shooed away most visitors do not pay attention to warning signs and are misled by their bright colors, charming antics and apparent fearlessness. Attempts to touch or interact with them usually ends with a lorikeet snapping at offending fingers - and their bite, like most parrots, is quite powerful and can draw blood. Beware tourists in Australia - look but don’t touch.

Oh and don’t feed them either - processed sugar and other foods aren’t good for them in the long run.

Can’t imagine seeing anything like that in my garden! Sure would wake me up…

Nice. The hummingbirds on Vancouver Island pale in comparison. Though we do have lovely slugs, big as dog turds…

The hummingbirds on Vancouver Island pale in comparison. Though we do have lovely slugs, big as dog turds…

Means nothing - how do I know you don’t just have really small dogs?

stevaroni said:

The hummingbirds on Vancouver Island pale in comparison. Though we do have lovely slugs, big as dog turds…

Means nothing - how do I know you don’t just have really small dogs?

In the moist redwood forests around Santa Cruz, California, we have Banana Slugs (the mascot of UC Santa Cruz), so named because of (1) their color and (2) their shape…their size is only about half that of a banana.

My dear wife and I went into the lorikeet habitat in Long Beach. The little darlings are little darlings for a few minutes, until they try to climb into your pockets and your shirt sleeves and your pants legs and hang onto your hair - and when you try to shoo them off they bite the **** out of you. Thoroughly obnoxious creatures. But pretty…from a distance.

I was once walking in the bush around Licola and as I took aim at a rabbit for dinner, a lorikeet took one look at me holding a gun and then flew straight at the rabbit to scare it away.

That would seem to require a fair degree of intelligence (not the walking in the bush part).

Every year they come and chow on a gum tree in my front yard, they go nuts for gumnuts http://metrak.com/tmp/lorikeet.jpg

I wake up with these guys in my back yard every morning. I love living in Oz.

I was once walking in the bush around Licola and as I took aim at a rabbit for dinner, a lorikeet took one look at me holding a gun and then flew straight at the rabbit to scare it away.

That would seem to require a fair degree of intelligence (not the walking in the bush part).

I wouldn’t put such a thing past them. When I worked as a zoo birdkeeper 30-odd years ago, I cared for a pair of lories (I forget which species) that always seemed freakishly intelligent to me, even by parrot standards - like advanced alien beings in bird suits.

When I pushed their food bowl through a small porthole in the back wall of their cage, they would come down and gently run their papillate tongues over my fingers as if to say “Thanks for the grub.” This went on for months, until the zoo’s education department supervisor insisted on taking one of the lories on TV, and I had to catch the bird and box it for transport.

I knew the lories would never forgive me, so I pleaded with the supervisor to pick another species and with the bird supervisor to get another keeper to do it. No dice. The lory survived the trip, but ever after they would bite my hand every time I put their food out. Not any hand of any keeper - only my hand. Somehow they made the connection between the disembodied hand and the person that traumatized them. I still get a pang of guilt thinking about it.

Dozens of these guys live in the park across the street from my house (Lord Reserve, Carnegie) and they make a great racket at dusk (though I do prefer the magpie chorus at dawn). There’s also a pair with new chicks in a hollow branch at the park entrance. I’ll try and get some shots. Carefully.

Rainbow lorries certainly seem intelligent enough to be vindictive bastards. When I was a kid, my mother worked at Cleland wildlife park in South Australia and we often looked after injured or orphaned animals at the house. Once we had a young rainbow lorikeet who we kept in the laundry and fed bottlebrush blooms, syrup-soaked bread and a nectar mix. He’d frequently fly into fits of deafening screeching if he wanted to go outside and converse with the other birds, fly around the kitchen or just get some attention. If you walked past his cage and ignored him, he’d hang on the bars sideways and launch guano at you. By the time he went back to Cleland he was getting pretty damned accurate and had even figured out how to hit fast-moving targets (us and the dog). Good times :)

The lorikeets at the San Diego Wild Animal Park have a great deal for you. You pay 3 bucks to feed them, and they return the favor by crapping on your shirt, head, whatever (at no extra charge!).

Regarding their aggressiveness to other birds, I have often seen this. Two or three magpies having a quiet nosh and one lorikeet will come along and say, “Bugger off”. The magpies say, “Yeah, you and what army?” The lorikeet says, “You’ve got to be kidding.” So the magpies bugger off.

Mind you, they seem to be equally agressive among themselves. We seem to have an alpha pair who when they feed have the feeding bowl to themselves. If others are there first there is a quick shouting match and they leave. When the alpha pair have finished the others come back and have a bit of a squabble among themselves before settling down.

I have only seen crows get the better of a Rainbow Lorikeet, and even then it was about 5 to 1. Despite the colourful plumage they blend into the foliage more than you would think.

4tune8chance said:

I have only seen crows get the better of a Rainbow Lorikeet, and even then it was about 5 to 1.

Did the crows have chainsaws, too?

Despite the colourful plumage they blend into the foliage more than you would think.

The brilliant plumage of many tropical birds, especially those of most parrots, grant their owners camouflage by blending in with the bright lights and shadows formed by forest foliage and sunlight.

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This page contains a single entry by Timothy Sandefur published on June 29, 2009 12:00 PM.

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