A great egret looks for breakfast at Calamvale Creek


Scientific stuff

Rainbow lorikeet
Also called rainbow lory, or blue mountain lorikeet

Trichoglossus haematodus
Family: Psittacidae
25-30 centimetres (10-12 inches)

Brightly coloured smallish bird, larger than budgerigar but slightly smaller than most rosellas.

Brilliant blue head, red beak, green collar with tinge of yellow.

Bright orange breast band with yellow upper. Blue belly. Brown-orange eyes. Green wings, tail, and back.

Undertail looks faded blue, green, yellow, orange.

Very fast flyer. Usually flies in flocks of perhaps 12-20, which split into smaller groups to feed.

Can be raucous in flight — softer twittering while feeding and resting.

Chatterbox. Noisy in groups. Nomadic when searching for food, but around the creek they seem to like regular feed times — especially early to mid-morning and mid-to-late afternoon. Noisy when arriving and leaving at feed times.

Using our photos

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Roy's photos

Roy is one of a large number of rainbow lorikeets around Calamvale Creek.

Our photographer first singled him out from a group that was feeding on melaleuca blossoms.

The photographer said:
“Rainbow lorikeets used to be plentiful around the creek, but numbers dropped for several years. They are starting to make a comeback.

“I call them ‘hit-and-run’ birds, because they make a racket as they arrive to feed on eucalypt or other blossoms, feed for a while, then noisily fly off.

“They are amusing to watch, because they contort themselves in all sorts of positions to feed from blossoms — often upside down.

“Here is a typical upside-down feeding pose:

rainbow_lorikeet_upside_down (10K)

“They make a pretty sight on the trees, with splashes of brilliant colour moving along tree branches and hanging from nectar-rich flowers.”

Critters of Calamvale Creek

Roy, the rainbow lorikeet

Also called rainbow lory and blue mountain lorikeet

Trichoglossus haematodus

rainbow_lorikeet_1 (17K) Hoy! I'm Roy, the rainbow lorikeet, and I've just stopped off to rest on this palm tree around Calamvale Creek in Brisbane, Australia.

You can find me on many types of trees, but for feeding I like trees with flower blossoms or fruit.

I'm not on my own in this tree — I rarely am. There are five of us resting in this palm tree and another 15 in trees nearby.

I like to dart and twist around the trees, and often fly high above the tree tops with the rest of our flock.

Although I sometimes drink water straight, I get most of my moisture from water trapped in leaves.

rainbow_lorikeet_2 (28K)

Where do I live?

You can find rainbow lorikeets all over the east coast of Australia, around the southern coast of Victoria into South Australia, and there is a red-collared variety at the top of Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

rainbow_lorikeets_6 (39K)

We like woodlands, open forests, heathland, rainforests, paperbark stands — in fact anywhere there is suitable food nearby. We are often found around urban parks that have suitable food trees and nesting hollows.

What do I eat?

Trichoglossus_haematodus_3 (32K)

Most of my food comes from nectar. I like pollen, blossoms on melaleuca, banksia, eucalypts, flowers from grevillea and callistemon, berries, citrus fruit in summer, seeds, and sometimes insects.

We get seeds from a magic dish outside a house at the top of Golden Pond wetland 1. The dish swings from a shady tree and seed spills over to the ground. It constantly fills itself with seed when we are not there.

rainbow_lorikeet_4 (32K)

In the photo above you can see me feeding on the ground under the magic dish with a scaly-breasted lorikeet. Scaly-breasted lorikeets are like rainbow lorikeets, but don't have all the bright colours. They are mostly plain green with yellow margins. Their breast feathers look like green and yellow scales.

My agility

rainbow_lorikeet_5 (14K) I am a very agile bird. I have to be, because many of the blossoms I feed on hang from branches that are too thin to walk on.

So I grasp the thin end of the branch and as the flower falls under my weight I bend down and feed upside down.

I move swiftly along branches and combine hopping with brief wing-flapping to quickly get to suitable food.


rainbow_lorikeet_treehome (19K) The tree pictured at left, near Alpinia Place, is an occasional home for me. It is fairly typical of the type of nest we like — unlined in a hollow tree, fairly high up.

We look for a large or smallish hollow in a smooth-barked tree trunk or thick limb. It doesn't matter whether the tree is dead or alive.

The female lays two or three white eggs, about 27 millimetres long, on bare wood dust or decayed wood.

Both male and female select and prepare the nest, but only the female incubates the eggs. Incubation takes 25 days, and the young leave the nest after about eight weeks.

rainbow_lorikeet_7 (15K)We breed nearly all-year round in the north, except February. It's the shortest month, and it's hot, so this is the best time to take a break. In the south-east, we breed from July till January.

Mrs Rainbow frequently leaves the eggs, but makes sure they are always warm.

Once you have heard us you will know when we are around. We make quick-sounding screeches as we fly, but have a soft mellow chatter when we are feeding or resting.

— Roy, the rainbow lorikeet