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Swainson's Lorikeet

Trichoglossus haematodus moluccanus

The Swainson’s Lorikeet is the most well known subspecies of Rainbow Lorikeet. They are usually referred to as Rainbow Lorikeets and are also known as Blue Mountain Lorikeets.

The Rainbow Lorikeet is approximately 30cm (11.8in) in length. They reach sexual maturity at around 1 years of age.

This species is monomorphic, meaning both sexes are identical in appearance. The body, including the back and outside of wings is green with a lighter green nape. The head is violet-blue with shaft streaking. The abdomen is also violet-blue. The chest is mostly red with yellow markings. The wings are orange-red underneath with a broad yellow band.

Immature birds are duller in colour with a dark brown-orange beak and iris.

They have a specially adapted ‘bristle-tongue’ for eating pollen and nectar.

Rainbow Lorikeets are abundant in the wild, found in all sorts of wooded and rainforest areas from the coast and inland. They are also found in urban areas provided there are plenty of trees.

They live in noisy groups, from 10-20 birds to thousands. They gather in larger flocks to feed and roost.

They nest in tree hollows, favouring eucalyptus trees. Rainbow Lorikeets breed mainly during spring from September to December but can breed throughout the year.

Lories and lorikeets are specialised in eating nectar as their main food source. They also require more fruit compared to other parrots.

In captivity a lorikeet’s base diet should be either wet or dry nectar mix (or both). Wet is often preferred over dry, however a high quality dry version can be provided and the lorikeet will mix it with water itself (therefore, the water should be placed close to the dry lorikeet food).

Lorikeet food can either be bought commercially or there are a number of recipes for making it yourself, usually composed of baby cereal, rice flour, breadcrumbs, glucose powder, skim milk powder, semolina (wheat hearts), pollen mixture, etc. Lorikeets pellets are also available but are generally not recommended or accepted by the birds.

As well as the base diet, Swainson’s Lorikeets should also be feed fruit and vegetables. Native Australian chemical-free flowers such as bottlebrushes are also appreciated. Be aware of foods high in iron as lorikeets are prone to health problems due to high levels of iron.

A Rainbow Lorikeet’s lifespan is around 20-30 years.

While wild Rainbow Lorikeets tend to prefer more horizontal or 45 degrees tree hollows, captive lorikeets are known to accept nest boxes of varied designs. The nest box often does well if positioned high in the aviary.

Housing breeding lorikeets is best as a single pair per aviary because they can become quite quarrelsome during breeding season.

The female lays two eggs. Incubation lasts for about 24 days, with the chicks fledging at 55-60 days old.