Musk Lorikeets

While staying with my daughter in Clare in the mid-north of South Australia last weekend I was aware of the large numbers of Musk Lorikeets in and near her garden. Just over the fence in a neighbour’s back yard is a tall Eucalyptus citriodora (Lemon Scented Gum). It is about 10 metres high and covered in flowers. These are clusters of creamy stamens several centimetres long. And don’t the lorikeets love these flowers!

Lorikeets in the garden
While I was doing some gardening in the back yard on Monday morning I stopped a number of times to observe these raucous creatures. As they are feeding there is the constant contact calls, a relatively quiet screech – if that is not a contradiction in terms. They scramble all over and through the foliage seeking the next flower for its nectar. After a few minutes of this two or three of them would suddenly take off towards another tree, perhaps a few houses away or in the next street. Sometimes they would head arrow-like towards the park a block away, or towards the trees lining Lake Inchquin or the golf course next to it. As they fly they frequently emit high pitched screeches. You would have to be totally deaf not to be aware of these noisy birds zooming overhead.

Photo opportunity
As I watched one bird in particular I was aware that it was feeding on the outer foliage closest to where I was working. Of course the camera was inside. Would this flighty bird stay long enough for me to take a photo? I raced inside, grabbed the camera and crept as unobtrusively as I could back to my spot. The lorikeet in question must have been very hungry; he was still there. Over the next five minutes I managed to take some photographs, mainly of the foliage! Eventually I did manage a reasonable shot of the bird on the outside of the leaves and in full sun. The brilliant colours show up quite well, especially the bright grass green of the back and sides and the brilliant red forehead.

Musk Lorikeet

Musk Lorikeet

Lorikeets in South Australia
Lorikeets are widespread throughout southern South Australia. There in the Clare Valley the Musk Lorikeet seems to be the dominant species, but I have also recorded Rainbow Lorikeets from time to time. The Purple Crowned Lorikeet may also be found in this area. In Murray Bridge where I live, however, the latter species is the most common, followed by the Rainbow Lorikeet. The Musk Lorikeet is not observed nearly as much in our area.

UPDATE: for related articles and more photos click on these links:

This article was updated on October 3rd 2015.