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As its name implies, this mostly red parrot has a yellow patch on the mantle. The wings and thigh regions are green and the wing coverts are yellow. The tail is green with a blue tip. The iris of the eye is orange-red and the beak is hooked.
Approximately 30 cm (12 in.)
Approximately 190-225 g (6.7-7.9 oz.)
Feeds on fruit, seeds, buds, nectar, unripe grain, and pollen
Approximately 3.5 years
Approximately 28-32 years
Batjan and Obi
Found in rainforest areas
Estimated at 31,000-220,000
Lorikeets have very specialized tongues for feeding on nectar. Tiny hair-like structures called 'papillae' line the end of the tongue in the shape of an "U". When a lorikeet extends its tongue during feeding, the papillae stand on end, like bristles on a brush, allowing nectar and pollen to be easily soaked up. Unique to lorikeets, this trait has earned them the nickname "brush-tongued" parrots.
Also unique to lorikeets is the shape of their beaks. The upper mandible has a long, pointed tip and much narrower structure than other parrots. This serves to easily extract hard-to-reach seeds from cones and other hard vegetation. The birds will scrape the fruit on the inside of their bill and remove the sweet juices with their specialized tongues.
Approximately 70% of their day is spent feeding, and lorikeets will travel more than 30 miles a day to find food. Some lorikeets can feed on as many as 650 flowers each day.
They are constantly active and noisy, feeding in large groups and even in the company of other parrots or other honey-eating birds.
Lorikeets will establish daily flight paths connecting their feeding sites, which tend to follow the natural contours of the landscape, such as hills, valleys, and rivers. At night, lories retreat along these paths back to their communal roosts, which can contain as many as several thousand birds.
They will travel long distances in order to locate a suitable nesting site. This will typically consist of a nest with a layer of wood dust along the bottom, usually in a tree cavity often as high as 80 feet above the ground.
During the courtship dance the male hops around the female and then dazzles her by revealing his bright yellow converts.
These highly social birds are some of the most colorful.
Lories are very playful and inquisitive, enjoying bathing and playing in the water.
They are excellent mimics, but generally poor talkers.
ECOLOGY AND CONSERVATION
There are 53 species of lories. Nearly all of them suffer from habitat destruction, logging, agriculture, and exotic pet trade. Trapping them in the wild instead of captive breeding is responsible for their rapidly declining numbers.
Their diet of fruits such as apples and pears as well as corn often causes them to be responsible for crop damages and are thus seen as pests in some parts of their range where they are no longer protected. In addition, trapping them in the wild instead of captive breeding and the increase of introduced predators such as cats and dogs are responsible for their rapidly declining numbers.
Lories are very important to our ecosystem because of their eating habits. Not all of the seeds they consume are digested; many are passed in the bird's guano over new areas of the forest. Some species eat nectar and are important in the pollination of many species of plants in the tropical forests.
The U.S. Wild Bird Act forbids the commercial import of any bird listed by CITES which includes most parrots - endangered or threatened.
Parrots of the World
. New Jersey. T.F.H. Publications Inc. 1978.
Lories and Lorikeets
. New York. Van Nostrand Reinhold Company. 1977.
Parker, S. P. (ed.).
Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia
. Birds II. Vol. 8. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Co., 1972.
Perrins, C. (ed.).
The Encyclopedia of Birds
. New York: Facts on File Publications. 1985.