Flying Paint Pallets 
Matt Baird, Australia

Rainbow Lorikeet (Trichoglossus haematodus moluccanus) 

Length 30cm
Weight 140 gm
The first ever illustration of any Australian parrot that was published,
was in fact a Rainbow lorikeet, back in 1774 in Peter Brown’s New
Illustrations of Zoology.

The Rainbow Lorikeet is commonly found all down
the east coast of Australia, from Tasmania to Northern
Queensland, to where they have become somewhat a
tourist attraction at Currumbin Sanctuary (where hundreds
of Rainbows fly in every morning and afternoon for their free
feed). There is an isolated population in and around the city
of Perth on the far western side of Australia .It is suspected
that this population grew  or originated from aviary escapes.
In Melbourne it is common to see the birds flying around in
small groups during the day and gathering to very large noisy
flocks at feeding and roosting sites. Rainbows can be heard
before they are seen, as they are very argumentative amongst
themselves and other birds in the tree.

Swainson's Lorikeet - Lutino mutation

One must always remember that there is no true visual way of sexing a
Rainbow Lorikeet. The only true and reliable way is either surgical sexing
or DNA (Blood /Feather). 

Over the years there have been more home recipes developed regarding the
feeding of Lories and Lorikeets, in both their wet and dry diets. Over the last
10 years there has been a lot of work done by some of the major pet food
companies in conjunction with Aviculturists, in the development of Lory and
Lorikeet diets.

A wet mix is supplied early in the morning with the amount given depending
on whether there are chicks in the nest. The wet mix should all be consumed
within 1-2 hours. The reason for this is that the wet mix can sour very quickly
in the Australian heat. As with the wet mix a fresh supply of fruit and veggies
is feed out every morning, consisting of apple, pear, mango, orange, banana,
kiwi fruit, broccoli, celery, peas and beans. Again this is only fed out in the
morning as all food bowls are collected before the heat of the day.  There is a
constant supply of the dry mix always available to the birds. And, at the end
off the day, a fresh supply of wet mix is fed, along with a piece of fruit.
                                      Swainson't Lorikeet - dilute blue-fronted mutation

With any bird, a constant supply of fresh drinking water is a must. All Lories
and Lorikeets love to bathe and so a water bowl large enough to allow the
birds to hop into will be greatly appreciated by the birds. They also love to
make their own wet mix in their water bowls with the dry food so a strict
cleaning regimen must be in place.  As these commercially available diets
are becoming better and more freely available, the pet bird owner/Aviculturist
must supply a fresh supply of fruit and veggies daily to the birds.

In Australia, the Rainbow Lorikeet is classed as an ideal bird for the beginner
lorikeet breeder as these birds are very easy to care for and will breed freely for
anyone starting out in Loryculture.  The cage/housing needs for Rainbows will
always come down to the owner’s personal budget. As long as the cage/aviary
is not too small for the bird,  successful breeding is almost guaranteed.  
Swainson's Lorikeet - cinnamon mutation

Rainbows will do well in both a conventional aviary or suspended. I personally
prefer the suspended as the ease of daily feeding and cleaning is a lot less intrusive
to the birds. As a guide, I can recommend a suspended aviary be a minimum length
of 1.2 meters (4 ft) x .600mm (2 ft) wide x .900mm (3 ft) high. Rainbow Lorikeets will
accept a variety of nest boxes or hollow logs hung either vertically or horizontally
on the outside of the cage, not only for the keepers ease of nest inspection but to
also allow the full use of the cage for the birds. I prefer a nest box that has a removable
drawer/nest chamber, as this makes changing the soiled wet nesting material done with
ease and very little interference to the parent birds and chicks.

Rainbow Lorikeets will breed from the age of approximately 12 months and will breed
freely through out the year. 2 eggs are laid with a 1-2 day interval, with an incubation
period of 24 days and with fertility almost 100%. Occasionally 3 eggs are laid but this
is very rare. Rainbow Lorikeets hatch with a fine wispy, white down. Their eyes open
at 14 days. By the 20th day, the babies are covered in a dull grey down, and are almost
fully feathered at 40 days Chicks will fledge at approximately 60 days of age. 

Chicks that are left with their parents should be observed regularly not only as the chicks
are developing in the nest (as the parents can be know to pluck the chicks) but also when
the chicks have fledged, as the parents can become aggressive towards their young in
eagerness to go back to nest. The fledglings look a little duller than their parents, with their
brown beaks and pale skin around the eye. Over the last 10-15 years, a lot of work focusing
on the development of mutations in the Rainbow Lorikeet has developed some very stunning
and truly beautiful colour mutations.

Grey Green, Cinnamon, Blue Fronted, Mustard, Olive, Lutino and
Pied are all well established in Australian aviaries with some new
mutations starting to appear.

Swainson's Lorikeet - Blue-front mutation

The Rainbow lorikeet would have to be one of Australia’s most popular lorikeets. Its amazing
plumage, crazy antics and the ability to mimic words and sounds not only make it a fantastic
pet but also a great aviary subject.  It’s not just for the beginner to Loryculture. Its willingness
to breed freely and the knowledge and the experience gained by keeping this wonderful bird
will help any Loriculturist get a good strong foothold on the keeping and breeding of  Lories
and Lorikeets currently available in Aviculture.