Trichoglossus moluccanus – Rainbow Lorikeet

Rainbow Lorikeet - Trichoglossus moluccanus (Gmelin, JF, 1788) - is a very colorful medium-sized parrot widespread native to Australia and Tasmania. 

Rainbow Lorikeet was previously considered a subspecies of the similar looking Coconut Lorikeet but are now split into different species.

They are very popular as pets or in aviculture due to their bright colors. They make excellent pets; they are very friendly, funny and affectionate birds - even wild birds can be tamed. They are very active birds so they should be provided a large aviary; pet birds should have at least 3-4 hours out of the cage each day to maintain a good physical and mental health. They are avid chewers so provide plenty of bird-safe toys and branches.

Like other lorikeets they have a special brush like tongue with small hairs that are used to harvest nectar and pollen from flowers. Lorikeets are known to be very messy due to their liquid-based diet, so you need to take that into consideration before acquiring a pet lorikeet!

Rainbow Lorikeet are monogamous and forms a tight bond with their mate - typical a lifelong bond.

Lifespan: 15-25 years

Description

Medium-sized parrot with bright colours. The head is deep blue with streaks of white or light blue. The nape has a small yellow band; lower part of nape is green. The back and upper side of wings and tail are deep green. The chest is orange-red with some yellow barring. The abdomen deep blue with black barring. Thighs and rump are yellow with green spots. The beak and eyes are dark orange-red.

Males and females look similar. 

Size: 25-30 cm
Weight: 75-157 g

It is sometimes confused with the similar looking Coconut Lorikeet but the Rainbow Lorikeet has a blue abdomen and a more orange chest and blue head instead of  black.

Habitat

Native in Australia and Tasmania; found in eastern and south-eastern Australia from Cape York to Eyre Peninsula and South Australia.

Their habitat include rainforest and woodlands but also some urban areas. They are most common in lowlands but also found up to 2400 m.

They are often found in mixed flocks with other parrots and will roost in communally in flocks with hundreds of birds.

They are nomadic as they depend on flowering trees and shrubs.

Taxonomy

  • Order: Psittaciformes
  • Family: Psittaculidae
  • Genus: Trichoglossus

Synonyms

  • Danish: Regnbuelori
  • English: Rainbow Lorikeet
  • French: Loriquet arc-en-ciel, Loriquet de Swainson
  • German: Regenbogenlori
  • Portuguese: Lóris-molucano
  • Spanish Lori arcoiris, Lori de Arco Iris

IUCN Red List

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Version 2017-3. <www.iucnredlist.org>.
Downloaded on 25 March 2018.

Subspecies

Trichoglossus moluccanus moluccanus (Gmelin, JF, 1788) - Swainson's Lorikeet

  • Nominate form; colours as described above.
  • Habitat: Eastern and south-eastern Australia from Cape York to Eyre Peninsula, South Australia and Tasmania

Trichoglossus moluccanus septentrionalis (Robinson, 1900) - Northern Moluccan Lorikeet

  • Brighter blue/purple streaks on head; shorter tail. 
  • Habitat: North-eastern Australia; Cape York Peninsula.

Some sources also mention a third subspecies T. m. eyrei (Mathews, 1912) - Lake Eyre Lorikeet  - but this is not recognised by [IOC]; it is included in the nominate T.m. moluccanus species.

Diet

Rainbow Lorikeet forages on flowers of trees and shrubs; they use their special brush-like tongue to harvest nectar and pollen from flowers. They also eat fruits, seeds and insects.

In aviculture the main part of the diet should be based on either commercial or home made nectar. Also provide plenty of fruit and vegetables and add some spray millet and sprouted seeds.

Aviculture

The eggs are laid on chewed decayed wood in a hollow tree, usually an eucalypt tree.

Both the male and female prepare the nest and feed the chicks but only the female incubates the eggs.

The nest box should be about 50 x 35 cm. The clutch usually has 2-3 eggs that are incubated by the hen for about 23-25 days. Fledging age is 8-9 weeks.

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