Rainbow Lorikeet

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Rainbow Lorikeet Photo Lance DegilboInvite Rainbow Lorikeets to clown around in your backyard

What's that flash of colourful feathers, ducking and weaving through the trees and shrubs in your backyard? It's a Rainbow Lorikeet, and the playful games and bright multicoloured feathers of these parrots make them the 'clowns of the bird world'.

Imagine your tongue is like a bristle brush – the Rainbow Lorikeet's is. Unlike many other parrots, it doesn't eat seeds (in fact, these can be bad for lorikeets). Instead, it uses its bristle brush tongue to get sweet gooey nectar and pollen from deep within native flowers. Like a young child with a messy ice-cream cone, lorikeets get the nectar and pollen all over their heads!

You can help look after Rainbow Lorikeets in your yard

The best thing you can do is grow native plants in your garden. One of the great joys of doing this is being able to watch and listen to Rainbow Lorikeets as they eat.

Putting a bird bath in your yard is also a good idea, because lorikeets love to splash around and clean their feathers after feeding.

But beware! Don't give Rainbow Lorikeets other kinds of food, such as biscuits, bread or seeds. They may become dependent upon these sources of food and become less inclined to forage in the wild. Eating seeds can actually cause damage to their tongue and beak. Let them feed on native plants.

Be a backyard buddy

We can make our neighbourhoods friendly for Rainbow Lorikeets. It's easy. All you have to do is care, and take a few simple steps. Step one is to find out what Rainbow Lorikeets do and don't like.

Rainbow Lorikeets love:

  • Pollen and nectar – their favourite foods are nectar and pollen from native flowers. Nectar gives them energy, and pollen provides protein for healthy feathers. They also feed on fruits and small insects.
  • Trees with hollows – these are perfect for making nests.
  • Safe gardens – a safe garden is one where cats or dogs can't chase birds while they're feeding.

But they don't like:

  • The wrong food – grinding seeds and grain can cause damage to their beak and tongue, so it's important to let them eat food from the wild.
  • Other birds – a lorikeet will chase a much bigger bird away from food.
  • Cats, dogs and foxes – these animals can disturb or chase lorikeets while they're feeding.

Be a buddy to the Rainbow Lorikeet

Try to:

  • Plant flowering native shrubs, like banksias, grevilleas and bottlebrushes, that provide food.
  • Plant native trees in your neighbourhood – they will eventually grow to provide more habitat.
  • Take time out to watch lorikeets – it's a pleasure to watch them clowning around.
  • Keep your pets away from areas in your garden that lorikeets prefer.


  • Feeding lorikeets, particularly processed foods such as biscuits or bread, as their digestive system does not cope with too much artificially refined sugar.
  • Removing trees that have hollows suitable for nest sites.

Don't be surprised if:

  • You see lorikeets feeding at the same time each day.
  • They nest in a tree hollow in your backyard.
  • You hear shrill shrieking notes as they fly swiftly overhead.
  • They hang upside down, and duck and weave like acrobats.

A few more Rainbow Lorikeet facts

Rainbow Lorikeet profile

  • These colourful birds can be seen almost anywhere along the east coast of Australia, both in towns and in the bush.
  • They tend to roost in large groups and can be seen just on dusk, arriving by the hundreds at their favourite roosting place, usually in tall eucalypts.
  • Their behaviour is quite comical at times, especially at mating time, when the male tries to impress the female with a display of bobbing, bowing and prancing like a true showman!
  • Though males and females behave differently, it's very hard to tell them apart just by their appearance.