Rainbow Lorikeet

Trichoglossus moluccanus

The wonderfully vibrant Rainbow lorikeet, Trichoglossus moluccanus, is a species of true parrot from the Psittaculidae family which consists of 196 species divided into 54 genera. Trichoglossus are a genera of lorikeets distributed through the Australasian region. Some Rainbow lorikeets previously considered subspecies are now generally seen as separate species, so the Rainbow lorikeet now includes just two subspecies instead of six or seven.

Family:

Parrots

Length:

25cm to 30cm

Wingspan:

46cm

Weight:

70g to 169g

Rainbow Lorikeet

What does a Rainbow Lorikeet look like?

An exceptionally colourful bird, the Rainbow lorikeet is aptly named courtesy of its rich multi-coloured plumage. The bird has a blue or mauve head, a blue belly with an orange red neck and breast and green wings, tail and back. The feathers are bright and vivid, typical of other similarly colourful true parrots. The tail feather is longer than average for lorikeets.

Both males and females look very much alike. They measure around 25 to 30 cm (9.8 to 11.8 in) long and have a compact and slender build similar to other lorikeets as well as the Indian ringneck parakeet and Alexandrine parakeet.

Rainbow Lorikeet in flight

Rainbow Lorikeet in flight

How big is a Rainbow Lorikeet?

Rainbow lorikeets rarely grow beyond 25 to 30 cm (9.8 to 11.8 in) in length, but their 46cm (18in) wingspan is considerable for a bird of that length.

How much does a Rainbow Lorikeet weigh?

Rainbow lorikeets are compact and slender and weigh just 75 to 150 grams (2.6 to 4.2 oz).

What is the scientific name of a Rainbow Lorikeet?

The scientific name of the Rainbow lorikeet is Trichoglossus moluccanus and there are two subspecies; Trichoglossus moluccanus septentrionalis and Trichoglossus moluccanus moluccanus.

Other lorikeets that were once considered subspecies of the Rainbow lorikeet are now considered their own species including the Red-collared lorikeet, scarlet-breasted lorikeet, marigold lorikeet and Flores lorikeet.

A pair of Rainbow Lorikeets perched on a branch

A pair of Rainbow Lorikeets perched on a branch

Are Rainbow Lorikeets aggressive?

Rainbow lorikeets, like many other lorikeets and parakeets, are prone to becoming territorial and aggressive, both towards the same species and others.

The territorial behaviour of Rainbow lorikeets is typically driven by food and nesting competition - they’ve even been observed to forcibly remove the nestlings of other parrots from their nests.

Rainbow lorikeets display many sociable and gregarious behaviours too, though, and will often flock together in pairs with Rainbow lorikeets and other arboreal species. They generally remain peaceful and sociable until they have to compete over food or nesting areas. Acts of aggression are usually minor.

How long do Rainbow Lorikeets live for?

Rainbow lorikeets live for around 20 to 30 years, or perhaps even longer when kept in captivity. This is about average for smaller parrots, whilst larger parrots like Macaws can live for over 100 years.

Rainbow Lorikeet perched on a tree branch

Rainbow Lorikeet perched on a tree branch

Are Rainbow Lorikeets endangered?

Rainbow lorikeets are currently defined as a species of least concern, which means their populations are plentiful and not under immediate danger. Throughout the eastern Australian seaboard, the Rainbow lorikeet is a common site with a population estimated at around 5 million.

Rainbow lorikeet populations as well as other lorikeet species are decreasing, but they remain in the bracket of least concern.

What does a Rainbow Lorikeet eat?

Rainbow lorikeets generally consume soft, sweet foods such as fruits, berries, buds, nectar and flower buds. They are well-equipped for consuming nectar and pollen, particularly from Eucalyptus, Banksia, Hibiscus and coconut plants.

In terms of fruit, Rainbow lorikeets consume pears, bananas, citrus, papaya and mango. One survey found that their diet consists primarily of flowers (87%) across 43 different species of plants.

A Rainbow Lorikeet eating grapes

A Rainbow Lorikeet eating grapes

Do Rainbow Lorikeets mate for life?

Like most parrots, Rainbow lorikeets are monogamous and will usually mate for life unless one member of the pair is killed or dies prematurely.

Where do Rainbow Lorikeets nest?

Rainbow lorikeets typically nest in tree hollows and will choose areas of food abundance, e.g. trees near creeks and rivers. They prefer to be somewhat elevated from the forest floor, preferably at a height of around 3m.

Their nests are simple and are typically lined with wood chips and dry grasses. Rainbow lorikeets will also nest in buildings and manmade structures.

Rainbow Lorikeet resting at the nesting hollow

Rainbow Lorikeet resting at the nesting hollow

How many eggs does a Rainbow Lorikeet lay?

Rainbow lorikeet females typically lay clutches of 1 to 3 eggs and can lay up to 3 clutches a year.

What do Rainbow Lorikeet eggs look like?

Rainbow lorikeet eggs are small and white with no particularly distinctive features.

What does a Rainbow Lorikeet sound like?

The typical calls of the Rainbow lorikeet involve high-pitched squawks, chatters and screeches.

Famed for being energetic and at times noisy birds, especially when visiting gardens in flocks, Rainbow lorikeets are intelligent communicators that are capable of advanced vocalisations.

A close up portrait of a Rainbow Lorikeet

A close up portrait of a Rainbow Lorikeet

What is the habitat of a Rainbow Lorikeet?

Rainbow lorikeets tend to live in forested and woodland areas that are dense in foliage, food and potential tree-trunk nesting sites. Rainforests, mangroves, woodlands and coastal areas are all valid habitats for Rainbow lorikeets.

They’re also perfectly comfortable with living in urban areas and will happily nest in buildings and manmade structures.

Where can I see Rainbow Lorikeets?

Rainbow lorikeets are primarily distributed on the eastern Australian seaboard, from Queensland to South Australia. They can sometimes be found on the western coast of New Zealand. Urban colonies have been established as far west as Perth.

Rainbow Lorikeet flying high in the sky

Rainbow Lorikeet flying high in the sky

Do Rainbow Lorikeets migrate?

Like most lorikeets, Rainbow lorikeets are generally non-migratory but are fairly nomadic and will move depending on the weather and climate.

Can Rainbow Lorikeets talk?

Rainbow lorikeets are strong communicators and have an array of calls that they use regularly. Flocks are regularly seen chattering and squawking at each other.

Whilst they aren’t renowned for their mimicry, Rainbow lorikeets can learn to copy certain words and phrases spoken to them if trained to do so. Overall, they aren’t well-known for their mimicry compared to other parrots.

A group of Rainbow Lorikeets

A group of Rainbow Lorikeets

What is a group of Rainbow Lorikeets called?

The most common collective nouns to describe a group of Rainbow Lorikeets is a chattering or a flock.

Other birds in the Parrots family

Get the good stuff

Get the latest BirdFacts delivered straight to your inbox