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Posted by on Dec 17, 2010 in Featured, Photography, Travel, Wildlife | 2 comments

Friday Photo 36: Rainbow Lorikeets in Australia

The Rainbow Lorikeet (Trichoglossus haematodus) is a species of Australasian parrot found in Australia, eastern Indonesia (Maluku and Western New Guinea), Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. In Australia, it is common along the eastern seaboard, from Queensland to South Australia and northwest Tasmania. Its habitat is rainforest, coastal bush and woodland areas.

Rainbow Lorikeets in Australia (c) Greg Pillhofer, 2010

I found this pair at a small coffee shop in Airlie Beach, a small town on the north eastern coast of Queensland, Australia. It was pretty early in the morning. We’d stopped there to have breakfast as it was the first place that we found was that was open on a Sunday morning. The day was grey and wet and we’d been scheduled to take a charter out to the Great Barrier Reef for a day of fishing. The boats’ skipper had called an hour earlier to suggest, in his professional and experienced opinion, that the trip be postponed in favour of better weather. Being of the land-lubber persuasion, we acceded to his knowledge and were killing a little time in order to get some value out of our pre-dawn start and 90 minute drive through squalls of rain to the coast.

Rainbow Lorikeets often travel together in pairs and occasionally respond to calls to fly as a flock, then disperse again into pairs. The pairs defend their feeding and nesting areas aggressively against other Rainbow Lorikeets and other bird species. They chase off not only smaller birds such as the Noisy Miner, but also larger and more powerful birds such as the Australian Magpie.

This specific pair seemed to be the resident owners of the patch of air- and feeding-space around the coffee shop; we never saw another Rainbow Lorikeet anywhere at all. They had perched atop of the umbrella over our table and were obviously expecting a little paydirt of the sweet and tasty to Lorikeets’ type. From what I’ve read about them subsequently, I think these are specifically two Swainson’s Lorikeets – Trichoglossus haematodus moluccanus.

I shot them from fairly close up and used the flash to offset the dull pale grey sky overhead. The white background is an artefact of the lack of any highlights in the sky that morning. The blandness of the background is just emphasised so heavily by the ridiculously vivid colours of their plumage. All I did post-shot was a little cropping and straightening of the image.

Rainbow Lorikeets. Darn pretty little things, aren’t they?

“Rainbow Lorikeets in Australia” © Greg Pillhofer, 2010
Original Capture: 12/12/2010, 07:42am – Airlie Beach, Australia
Canon EOS 350D | f/5.6| 1/200 sec | ISO-400 | 55mm | Flash


  1. Was starting to wonder what happened to you lot. Nice to see you are in the Land of Oz. And in a nice part of it too. Hot and humid much up there is it?!

    Nice pic of what a lot of locals consider to be a bit of a pest especially around meal venues.

  2. Airlie Beach – You’re lucky you were only passing through – I remember camping there – Hot and Humid is an understatement. Ask your host about the great inflatable mattress disaster.

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