Sunday Fun Bird Facts
This post is sponsored by SAASA and Birds of Eden
Fun Facts about Rainbow Lorikeets
Rainbow Lorikeets – fun facts
1 - Rainbow Lorikeets are 'communal roosters'. This means that on dusk, huge numbers of them congregate together in a few trees. This can be extremely noisy. Research has shown that they are more likely to roost in trees where there is a large amount of artificial light at night (around places like shopping centres and sports ovals), most likely because they can see nocturnal predators coming more easily. One of the reasons they are so successful in urban areas is that they have a flexible diet - they eat fruit, seeds, insects - and there are even documented cases of them eating meat! BUT - just because they can eat anything, doesn't mean they should. In fact, Rainbow Lorikeets actually have a tongue that looks like a paint brush. It is designed for feeding on nectar so can be damaged by other tougher foods. Their diet requires a high quantity of protein and carbohydrates.
2 - They are hollow-nesters but are not overly fussy. Rainbow Lorikeets have been seen nesting in palms, in rock crevices and even digging a hole at the base of a tree.
3 - Males and females are all but identical. The only way to tell them apart is a DNA test.
4 - Rainbow Lorikeets are native birds of Australia and can also be found on Tasmania Island. They are found on many islands of Oceania. They are among the most populous birds in Australia. The Lorikeet’s natural habitat is rainforests, woodland and coastal areas.
5 - Rainbow lorikeets often travel together in pairs and occasionally respond to calls to fly as a flock, then disperse again into pairs. Rainbow lorikeet pairs defend their feeding and nesting areas aggressively against other rainbow lorikeets and other bird species. They chase off not only smaller birds such as the noisy miner and the little wattlebird, but also larger birds. Rainbow lorikeets are monogamous and pair for life.
6 - Most parrots eat mostly nuts and seeds, using their strong beaks to break open the shells, but Rainbow Lorikeets are different. While they do eat some seeds, fruits, and insects, they mostly eat nectar and pollen. Rainbow Lorikeets have a special tongue that is covered with papilla, which are little hairs that help the birds dig out the pollen and nectar from flowers. Because of these papilla, some people call Rainbow Lorikeets ''brush-tongued parrots.'' As they gather nectar and pollen from flowers, the Rainbow Lorikeets get some pollen on their throats and heads. When they go to the next flower of the same species, some of that pollen is left behind, where it helps the plant make its seeds. So, Rainbow Lorikeets are actually helping the trees and flowers by carrying pollen from one plant to another.
7 - Also unique to lorikeets is the shape of their beaks. The upper mandible has a long, pointed tip and much narrower structure than other parrots. This serves to easily extract hard-to-reach seeds from cones and other hard vegetation. The birds will scrape the fruit on the inside of their bill and remove the sweet juices with their specialized tongues.
8 - Rainbow lorikeets were introduced to Western Australia in the 1960s… by accident. According to the Australian Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, the lorikeet population in Perth was established from fewer than 10 escaped or released caged birds. The damage wrought by the birds is extensive. They’ve had a big impact on agriculture as they feast on cherry, apple, pear, stone fruit, grape and vegetable crops. They’re also fierce protectors of these resources, and their breeding sites, which drives out other native species native to Perth.
9 - They get heavily inebriated during the wet season in Darwin. Drunken birds? Yes, we’re serious. When the wet season approaches in Darwin and the mercury starts to climb, lorikeets get on the drink. During the wet season Lorikeets exhibit tell-tale signs of drunkenness, such as difficulty flying, running into things and becoming friendlier towards humans. Basically, they lose their inhibitions. What exactly causes these drunken behaviours is unknown, but it’s believed it could be due to the effect of a virus combined with ingesting alcohol from fermenting fruit. The effects usually last for a couple of days, far longer than you would expect if it was just alcohol related. Additional symptoms which suggest that the condition is more than simply drunkenness include respiratory problems and a discharge from bird’s nostrils, mouth and eyes. In the past the phenomenon has been treated as a joke, but now, wildlife carers are becoming increasingly concerned for the birds during this time.
10 – The multi-coloured rainbow lorikeet was one of the species of parrots appearing in the first edition of The Parrots of the World and also in John Gould's lithographs of the Birds of Australia.
Come back next week for more exciting fun facts from SAASA and Birds of Eden here on Lets Go Big Tunes blog page