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Rainbow Lorikeet

Life in the air

"Nature is an immense gift and we can count ourselves as very lucky that we can sit quietly and watch these magnificent birds, dressed so beautifully in their multi-coloured coats of glorious feathers"

Peter Hylands, Andrea Hylands

September 5, 2022

One of the impacts of climate change is that major fires are occurring earlier in the season and that impacts birds and other young animals that are still in their nests with no hope of escaping the intense heat and fire. Even if the young animals survive deep in their hollows, it is likely that their parents will not.


Rainbow Lorikeets Trichoglossus haematodus, nest in hollows, mainly that means in trees. The ‘bedding’ in the nest hollow is made up of small pieces of wood litter. Because of extensive deforestation and the intensely hot climate change driven fires now burning across National Parks and in many other woodlands at vast scale, these nesting hollows are becoming a scarce commodity for the large array of Australian species, including mammals, which need them.


The Rainbow Lorikeet typically lays one to three eggs, incubation time for the eggs is 23-25 days and time in the nest for the young Lorikeets is around 45 days. The breeding season across the Rainbow Lorikeet’s range is during the second half of the year, July through to early summer. RainbowLorikeets pair for long periods, all being well that means for life. The female incubates the eggs. Males and females are difficult to distinguish.


Rainbow Lorikeet


Rainbow Lorikeets feed on pollen and nectar and their tongues are specially adapted to gather pollen and nectar from flowers, which is what they are doing in the photos in this story. At our former wildlife sanctuary in Victoria their visits coincided with the flowering of eucalypts. They are clearly important pollinators, which have adapted to city life, particularly as life outside the cities is becoming increasingly difficult, fires, drought, persecution and the trade in wildlife. Parrots can be a valuable commodity. As their natural Australian food sources have been destroyed, the species has been relatively successful at adapting to introduced plants for sustenance.

Rainbow Lorikeet

Rainbow Lorikeets and the Victorian Government

Rainbow Lorikeets are unpopular with the Victorian Government (these photos were taken in Victoria), which in the ten years 2009-2021 issued permits to ‘control’ (code for shoot) 12,480 Rainbow Lorikeets.

In 2020, the year of the catastrophic fires in January, and as the world was donating millions for the rescue and rehabilitation, permits were issued in Victoria to kill 1,825 Rainbow Lorikeets. The reasons given:

“Fruit orchard owners consider them a pest and they create nuisance noise and foul outdoor areas and vehicles with droppings”.

Rainbow Lorikeet

Some success is unwelcome

Rainbow Lorikeets, the species appears successful relative to many other Australian species which are in deep trouble, are also subject to the all too common claim that is applied to many other Australian species, that Rainbow Lorikeets have benefited from European settlement:  

“From artificial feeding stations and prolific-fruiting and flowering trees”.

We should be so lucky.