Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Many Colours of the Rainbow Lorikeet

Rainbow Lorikeet jadewelchbirds jade welch wild
Wild Rainbow feeding on a Grevillea
The sub-species of the Rainbow Lorikeet (Trichoglossus h. moluccanus) that largely inhabits the East Coast of Australia is a highly variable bird. This common species visits parks, gardens and is regularly fed by homeowners at bird feeders. Unfortunately many continue to feed them a poor diet of seed or milk, bread and honey when products such as formulated lorikeet foods are now available. They are a vocal species and can at times be heard throughout the night in cities of Australia where large numbers roost together. 

suspended aviaries lorikeets jadewelchbirds jade welch
Suspended Aviaries used by Mark Caudwell to house various Lories & Lorikeets

This sub-species is not only popular amongst the general public but also amongst breeders and pet owners. They are an ideal species for those wanting their first lorikeet and are extremely hardy. Their requirements are not overly great and with the advances in diet they are a species that is easy to cater for. 
blue rainbow lorikeet jade welch jadewelchbirds
Blue Mutation

Within Australia this sub-species and many other lories and lorikeets are commonly kept in suspended aviaries with the nestbox fitted to the rear of the cage. Fitting the box on the rear of the cage in the walkway allows for ease of checking. A cage 2-3 metres in length is ideal as these birds are highly active and will utilize all of the space in their aviary. That extends to the roof which the birds may hang from. Particularly in times of rain where the birds extend out their wings and catch the droplets of rain.

bathe rainbow lorikeets jade welch jadewelchbirds
Lorikeets love to bathe!

Suspended aviaries are largely used due to the ease of cleaning. This must be taken into consideration as these birds have rather liquid feaces. Feaces which they squirt. Breeding is rather straightforward and pairs usually lay 2 sometimes 3 eggs per clutch. If any more eggs are laid and all are infertile then it is advisable to re-sex the pair. This is a bird that will form pair bonds with members of the same sex. 

lorikeet nest boxes nestbox jadewelchbirds jade welch
Nest-boxes used by Mark Caudwell for his Rainbow Lorikeets 25cm x 25cm x 50cm deep
Incubation is influenced by factors such as when the hen sits and weather and it takes between 24 and 28 days for eggs to hatch. The colder the weather the longer it may take. Parents despite being protective are usually tolerant of nest inspections and young can often being taken out whilst the nesting material is being replaced. Due to the liquid diet these birds require nesting material may need to be changed frequently. Both parents work together to raise the young and one of the best foods for parents feeding young are flowers from plants such as Grevillea and Bottlebrush. 

rainbow lorikeet df pied jadewelchbirds jade welch
DF Pied

Despite their natural beauty, mutations are a draw card in any species and there is no shortage of mutations available in these birds. A number of mutations have occurred in captivity, in the wild and others have been produced through hybridization. Mutations currently kept include
Blue-fronted (Recessive)
Pied (Recessive)
Lutino (Sex-linked)
Cinnamon (Sex-linked)
Blue (Recessive)
Par Blue (Recessive)
Dilute (Recessive)
Grey Green (Dominant)
Fallow - 2 types (Recessive) 

lorikeet jadewelchbirds jade welch
Grey-green Mutation

The future of mutations in the sub-species is strong. Many multi-combination mutations are now available and the breeding of new colours is continuing. Selective breeding for certain traits is possible and it is without doubt that new mutations will continue to pop up.
fallow lutino blue-fronted rainbow lorikeet jadewelchbirds jade welch
From Left to Right: Lutino, Blue-fronted and Fallow

The Rainbow Lorikeet overall is a great choice for those moving into the world of lorikeet keeping. As mentioned they are straightforward in their requirements and a highly rewarding species to keep. Within Australia they are readily available and although not the case outside of Australia they are species well worth seeking out. They are naturally variable in colour and this adds to their appeal.

Many thanks to Mark Caudwell who helped to Co-Author this blog post. Mark is a breeder who focuses heavily on the Rainbow Lorikeet and its mutations. He is an expat kiwi who now lives in Victoria, Australia with his wife Jaye. Their daughter Sam grew up surrounded by birds, cats and the families pet goat.

Happy Birdkeeping,

Copyright © Jade Welch - All Rights Reserved. All photographs and text are protected
by copyright and may not be reproduced by any method without written permission from Mr Jade Welch.


  1. That blue mutation is stunning! I also have a soft spot for the DF pieds. I'm really enjoying your blog Jade, keep posting! :D
    - Clara

    1. Thank you Clara. I appreciate your feedback. I'll try to keep the blog interesting.

  2. Very informative :-) thanks really good work... Could you tell us the various
    ready made foods on the market for them? Also the dimensions and shape of nests and how they look from the inside :-) thanks

    1. Hi Petros,

      Thank you for your kind words. We have a number of formulated lorikeet foods available on the market that come as dry powders. Some can be left wet and others mixed with water and some can be used either way. In Australia these are commonly referred to as lory wet and lory dry and are manufactured by a number of companies.

      Some are good quality and others not so good. You will find that many breeders will mix more then one of the mixes together and others may have their own mix they make from products purchased at the super market. Birds that only get lory dry will often mix it with the water in their water bowl creating a bit of a mess at times.

      I will post a photo of the box in the post above. The boxes you see in the photo are made by Mark Caudwell the co-author of this blog post. He uses them for his Rainbow Lorikeets and he mentions that Rainbow's will nest in a vast array of nestboxes of varying size and design. Internally there is a ladder for the chicks and the hen to use. The lid is easily removed so when you do nest material changes you can just remove the chicks and then poor the old material out and into a bin. I hope this helps.

  3. Very helpful, clear and concise information here!