|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 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.
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.
|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.
|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.
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
Par Blue (Recessive)
Grey Green (Dominant)
Fallow - 2 types (Recessive)
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.
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.
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