Lorikeet at the Louisville Zoo

Lorikeet, Rainbow

Small islands such as Indonesia and Polynesia, Australia, Papua New Guinea.

Most live in the canopy of dense rainforests or at the edge of wooded areas near open savannahs. Some live in mountainous regions.

Varies among species. About 7 – 12 inches

Varies among species. Smaller species live 12 – 15 years in captivity and larger species live 25–35 years in captivity.

They are prolific breeders. Most species have only two eggs in a clutch, but will often have three (or more) clutches a year. Incubation varies from 22 – 26 days depending on the species. Babies fledge at around 50 – 60 days with sexual maturity at 18 – 24 months. Some species mate for life. They nest in a hollow limb or hole in a tree often 80 ft above the ground. Most species are not sexually dimorphic. Breeding pairs are very territorial.

Wild: Nectar, pollen, fruits and flowers.
Zoo: Nectar mix (in powder form and then mixed with water), a lot of fruit, some vegetables, sometimes cooked brown rice and mealworms.


  • Travel in pairs or groups of eight to ten individuals.
  • Lories are nomadic, traveling in flocks wherever trees are flowering.
  • Hundreds of Lories of different species will roost in one tree for the night.
  • They will hang upside down for hours at a time and sometimes sleep on their backs with their feet straight up in the air.
  • They generally get along well with other bird species, but they can be very territorial and can become quite jealous.
  • They must bathe frequently in order to properly maintain their plumage.
  • Most Lories can and will talk.
  • Rainbow lorikeets can spend 70% of their time feeding. They can feed from 30–40 Eucalyptus flowers in one minute!


  • Lories are generally larger and more full bodied than lorikeets and have a more blunt ending to their tail. Lorikeets are small and have a very pointed tail.
  • There are 53 different species of Lories.
  • They have long “papillae” (fuzzy appendages that resemble a pompom) located on the end of their tongue, forming a “U” shape. The papillae are erected when the tongue is fully extended. Lories are sometimes called the “brush tongued parrots.” Their tongue is specialized for collecting pollen from flowers.
  • Their upper mandible is much narrower and has a more pointed tip than beaks seen in other parrot families.
  • They have weak ventricular (gizzard) muscles which are perfectly suited for their unique diet.
  • Some are the primary pollinators of the islands they live on.
  • They learn quickly. Lory owners have been known to train them to fetch objects, drop money into piggy banks turn lights and televisions on and off, and some Lories have even been potty trained.

At least 13 species are endangered or vulnerable, particularly those found only on small islands. Causes of endangerment include habitat destruction for logging and agriculture, introduction of exotic species such as rats, domestic cats and dogs, mongoose and mosquitoes, accidental introduction of exotic diseases, such as avian malaria, and trapping for pet bird trade.

*Louisville Zoo lorikeets include two sub-species: Swenson’s Lorikeet and green-naped lorikeet.