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13 Facts About Rainbow Lorikeets (with Photos)

Rainbow lorikeets are a species of well-known colorful parrots. Their vibrantly colored feathers make them easy to spot. If you live in Australia, you might have seen this bird foraging for fruit among the leaves and flowers of trees. Continue reading to learn 13 facts about rainbow lorikeets. 

13 Facts About Rainbow Lorikeets

1. Rainbow lorikeets are native to Australia.

These green, indigo, and orange parrots live along the eastern coast of Australia. They live in the warm, lush rainforests and woods of the coast. Some prefer the bushes and scrub closer to the ocean as well. 

Some populations also live along the northern coasts and southeastern coast. Populations in the west usually stem from accidental escapes from sanctuaries. 

2. Males and females are identical. 

Males and females have such similar feathers that they can’t be told apart simply by appearance. Their sex is only discernible by watching which bird lays eggs or having them sexed professionally by a veterinarian. 

rainbow lorikeet pair
Rainbow Lorikeet Pair | image by russellstreet via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

3. Rainbow lorikeets live in pairs or flocks. 

These lorikeets occasionally fly in flocks of around 10 to 25 birds. They work together to locate fruit and pollen, which they descend upon and eat voraciously.

A flock of rainbow lorikeets splits up into pairs when they find food.  

4. They have a tongue adapted to gather pollen. 

A rainbow lorikeet’s tongue looks like a brush! While its scientific name is a ‘papillate appendage,’ its function is obvious, gather bits of pollen and drops of nectar as efficiently as possible. 

Rainbow lorikeets get pollen on their tongues and beaks while diving into flowers to get nectar. Many birds eat the pollen as well. Their brushy tongues help them gather it with a single swipe.

5. Rainbow lorikeets eat fruit, nectar, and coconuts. 

Fruit makes up most of the rainbow lorikeet’s diet. It doesn’t discriminate between commercial orchards and wild fruits, which has resulted in some being called a pest by farmers. 

Some of their favorite foods are eucalyptus nectar, papayas, and mangos. 

rainbow lorikeet wings
Rainbow Lorikeet showing off its wings | image by Alfred sin via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

 6. They can live to be 30 years old.

Parrots are a long-lived group of birds. Rainbow lorikeets can live between 10 and 30 years. In the wild, they live about seven to nine years. 

7. Rainbow lorikeets mate for life. 

Many intelligent bird species mate for life, and rainbow lorikeets are one of them. 

Both the male and female construct a nest in a hollow limb of a tree, but only the female incubates the eggs, which takes a little less than a month. Both parents then work together to raise their young.

8. They pollinate many native plants. 

When they fly from tree to tree, rainbow lorikeets exchange pollen between flowers. The pollen that remains on their tongues falls off within another tree’s flower, pollinating it and contributing to seed development. 

The trees that benefit from their unintentional pollination efforts are Eucalyptus trees, Tulip trees, and Sago palms. 

rainbow lorikeet flower
Rainbow lorikeet enjoying a flower | image by Mike Prince via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

9. Some are docile enough to be fed by humans. 

Rainbow lorikeets lack many natural predators in the wild and humans don’t hunt them. Over 75% of Australia’s human population lives within rainbow lorikeets’ prime habitat areas. 

Campgrounds, suburban backyards, and wildlife sanctuaries are prime places to see and interact with these parrots. 

10. It’s easy to spot them in the wild. 

Their bright colors are easy to see when they perch in trees and shrubs. Their habitat overlaps with suburban neighborhoods in many east Australian cities. You can attract them to your backyard by offering fruit and nectar feeders.  

11. They are the most common lorikeet in Australia. 

They’re the most common type of lorikeet in Australia, which is home to seven species of lorikeets. Rainbow lorikeets are doing especially well because they take advantage of fruit trees which humans plant.   

pair of rainbow lorikeets
Pair of Rainbow Lorikeets | image by Jan Smith via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

12. The illegal parrot trade poses a threat. 

Despite their abundance down under, rainbow lorikeets are threatened by the illegal pet trade. Traders trap the birds and sell them primarily to collectors in Asia. This is a problem for several reasons.

First, rainbow lorikeets are wild animals. Even though some are semi-domesticated or feral, it isn’t fair to keep a wild animal captive in an area of non-native habitat. 

These parrots are intelligent and require a high degree of stimulation to stay healthy. It is unlikely that conventional bird toys and can provide sufficient mental challenges. 

Second, rainbow lorikeets released by owners unwilling to take care of them have created feral populations that displace native species. They compete for food and shelter with endangered birds. 

13. They are loud communicators. 

In the wild, rainbow lorikeets squawk and vocalize loudly to each other. Captive and human-acclimated birds have been taught to mimic human speech. They can cause some occasional disturbance in the coastal neighborhoods when they roost in large groups.