Australia has many colourful parrots, cockatoos and lorikeets. We frequently have small flocks on Rainbow Lorikeets and Purple-crowned Lorikeets screaming overhead and speed, their screeching can be heard for hundreds of metres.
From time to time they will land in one of our trees and feed awhile. They are notoriously hard to photograph. Their habit of often feeding in the outer foliage makes it a challenge. Despite that I have managed a few good shots over recent years.
Ricki Coughlan has written about three kinds of lorikeets in her part of the world. Her article Lorikeet Explosion has some excellent photos of lorikeets (including one of mine used with permission). She also discusses the feeding habits and preferences of lorikeets.
Rainbow Lorikeets would have to be one of Australia’s most beautiful birds. They are aptly named. As they fly overhead in a flash of colour they light up their little patch of the azure blue sky. Their feathers are a brilliant blend of bright reds, greens, blues and yellows. As they screech overhead – and that is an accurate description of their harsh calls – their stunningly red underwings are like a blood-streak across a blue backdrop.
Rainbow Lorikeets are widespread along the northern, eastern and southern coastal regions of Australia. Their preferred habitats include woodlands, rainforests and wherever eucalyptus trees are numerous. They are easily seen in parks and gardens throughout many of our towns and cities.
Despite being quite common I have had some difficulty getting reasonably clear photographs of this species. When flying they seem to be going too fast to focus on them. When feeding they are often well hidden in the thick foliage of a eucalypt tree as they search out nectar from the flowers.
A single tree, if heavily in flower, can be host to twenty or thirty of these stunning beauties, their contact calls a never-ending chorus of murmurings and chattering. Yet, despite the numbers, most remain hidden amongst the leaves, usually near the top and out of sight – but not out of earshot. In large numbers their screeching can be deafening, especially near sunset as they squabble and jostle for roosting spots.
Since writing this article I have managed to take several good shots of this beautiful bird, so I ‘ve added one of them below. Click on the image to enlarge it.
This article was further updated in July 2015.