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Rainbow Lorikeet - BirdForum Opus

Photo © by mehdhalaouate
Noosa Heads, Australia, 11 May 2005
Trichoglossus moluccanus


The Rainbow Lorikeet is up to about 14 inches (35 cm) long. They weigh about 5 ounces (133 grams).
These parrots have brightly-colored red, green, blue, yellow, and orange feathers; the curved bill is red.
The males and females are hard to distinguish.

Similar species

Coconut Lorikeet: the two differ in the color of the belly with Coconut having the belly green while Rainbow has the belly dark blue. Also Coconut usually has more dark barring on its chest.


Subspecies moluccanus
Photo © by glazzers
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 31 May 2018

Found in eastern and south-eastern Australia.


Until recently, "Rainbow Lorikeet" included a variety of other forms which are now more usually split as separate species: Red-collared Lorikeet, Leaf Lorikeet, Marigold Lorikeet, Sunset Lorikeet, and Coconut Lorikeet. Gill and Donsker also split rosenbergii from Biak as Biak Lorikeet. However not all authorities have adopted these splits. Genetic divergence between the forms is low even though plumage differences are pronounced [8].


Clements recognises the following subspecies [1]:

  • T. m. septentrionalis: Northeastern Australia (Cape York Peninsula); also islands in the Torres Strait
  • T. m. moluccanus: Eastern Australia, from northeastern Queensland (south of the Endeavour-Daintree Rivers) south to Victoria, and west to southeastern South Australia, including the Eyre Peninsula and Kangaroo Island. Introduced in Western Australia (Perth


The prefered habitat is coastal forests as well as urban gardens.


Noisy flocks of up to several hundred may congregate in flowering trees to feed and roost, at times in the company of Scaly-breasted Lorikeets and Musk Lorikeets.


Breeding in the wild is from August to January. There are 2 to 3 white eggs in each clutch (a set of eggs laid in one nesting period). The eggs are laid in a tree cavity high above the ground. The female incubates the eggs for 25-26 days, and the male feeds her. Both parents will feed the chicks.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Braun, M.P. et al. (2017). Influences of oceanic islands and the Pleistocene on the biogeography and evolution of two groups of Australasian parrots (Aves: Psittaciformes: Eclectus roratus, Trichoglossus haematodus complex). Rapid evolution and implications for taxonomy and conservation". European Journal of Ecology. 3 (2): 47ñ66. doi:10.1515/eje-2017-0014.
  3. del Hoyo, J., Collar, N. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Rainbow Lorikeet (Trichoglossus moluccanus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from https://www.hbw.com/node/467530 on 1 December 2019).
  4. Dutson, G. (2011) Birds of Melanesia, Christopher Helm, London.
  5. Gregory, P. (2017) Birds of New Guinea, Including Bismarck Archipelago and Boughainville. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
  6. Juniper, T. & Parr, M. (1998) Parrots: A Guide to Parrots of the World. Yale Univ. Press, New Haven and London.
  7. Schodde, R. & Mason, I.J. (1997) Aves (Columbidae to Coraciidae). In: Houston, W.W.K. & Wells, A. eds. (1997). Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Vol. 37(2). CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne.
  8. Eaton, JA, B van Balen, NW Brickle, FE Rheindt 2021. Birds of the Indonesian Archipelago (Greater Sundas and Wallacea), Second Edition. Lynx Editions. ISBN978-84-16728-44-2

Recommended Citation

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