Rainbow Lorikeets

I think Rainbow lorikeets are the most common of all the parrots around here, although cockatoos probably give them a run for their money. They’re medium-sized birds, and flit between trees chirping and cheeping. Often you’ll only see them silhouetted and flying fast, but when you get up close you realise just how colourful they are.

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They eat fruit, pollen and nectar, so when a tree is in full bloom or is fruiting flocks of them descend. Whole trees seem to be alive – you can hear the racket from a good distance, and as you approach you can spot the lorikeets everywhere in and among the leaves and branches, scoffing whatever they can get their tongues on. Yes, you read that right – they have a crazy bristly bit like a paintbrush on the end of their tongues that can sweep up nectar and pollen from flowers. None of my photos show this but others have managed.

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Here’s one working through our bottle-brush tree – every November it gets covered in the fantastic pinkish-red flowers that are almost as garish as the lorikeets, and the local birdlife go wild for them.

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Gah! Messed up my focus again. I just don’t have the patience for bird photography, even for common birds that let you get close.

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Here’s one after seeds this time.

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Rainbow lorikeets make their nests in holes in trees, apparently laying their eggs on a bed of chewed and decayed wood (I have no intention of checking!). This one was in the Domain in Sydney.

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They’re handsome birds, adding a vibrant dash of colour in the sun against Australian blue skies, never too far from flowers and fruit. I’m sure they’re a favourite of Dame Edna!

See more Australian wildlife

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