Bird Word: Axillaries

  • Axillaries: feathers that cover the underside of the wing in the region of the ‘armpit’ of the bird, that is, where the wing joins the body. In some species it is distinctly coloured.

The fact that some species of birds have distinctive coloured axillaries – feathers under the wings (or their ‘armpits’) – is a diagnostic feature. In this area we have Musk and Purple Crowned Lorikeets. They are very hard to identify as they fly bullet-like from tree to tree looking for food.

I think I have the slight difference in their calls nailed, but the distinctive red ‘armpit’ patch tells me it is a Purple Crowned Lorikeet, and the absence of this colour indicates a Musk Lorikeet.

For more in this series of articles check out the Glossary of Bird Words here.

Musk Lorikeet

Musk Lorikeet


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