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Local Wildlife


Gaudy, Rowdy And Aggressive... ...The Rainbow Lorikeet by Keith Hutton


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ust after sunrise they hurtle across the sky like a squadron of fighter planes, screeching aggressively as they make their way from communal roosts to chosen feeding areas. There may be a dozen, twenty, even hun- dreds of them, or occasionally just a few pairs, but only rarely is there a solitary bird... In the evening at sunset they return still screeching and chattering continuously as they squabble and fight for the best roosting sites in tall leafy trees. At these times they appear like a mass of dark arrows speed- ing across the sky, but close up a Rainbow Lorikeet is one of the most brilliantly coloured parrots in the world. Rainbow is no exaggeration for this gaudy, rich-coloured and unmistake- able favourite of Australian artists and photographers.


The Rainbow Lorikeet is a common Australian native no- mad in the humid coastal areas of southern and eastern Australia, wherever there are trees and flowering shrubs rich in pollen and nectar. They also eat seeds and fruits and in many areas, including suburban Sydney, permanent populations have established in response to plant- ing of flowering trees and shrubs, and widespread availability of bird feeding trays. Rainbow Lorikeets visit these and become tame enough to take food from the hand, much to the delight of children and adults alike. They are busy, greedy feeders, always in motion, and become so engrossed in their search for food


74 • the Beast


that they often appear oblivious to observers.


There is a need for caution when providing food on feeding trays and bird tables.


Provision of large quantities of a limited range of foods can cause unforseen problems. Feeding may attract rats and other predators that raid nests and prey on native birds and their young. Also imbalanced diets can result in bone deformi- ties, general poor health, suscep- tibility to diseases and reduced ability to cope in bad weather. Hand fed wildlife becomes an easy target for poachers, and may become dependent on unnatural food, and aggres- sive towards humans. Sick birds are attracted to free feeds, and where diseases can spread easily regular cleaning and dis- infection of feeding and drinking areas is essential, just as it is in your own home. This is important for people too as some parasites, bacteria and viruses can be transferred from affected wildlife to humans, and scratches and bites may become infected. So, if you want to attract Rain- bow Lorikeets to your garden, think first of the birds and their natural habitat and select plants that will provide natural food. If you have a feed tray, bird table or drinker, keep them clean and safe and make sure that preda- tors do not have easy access. Then you can appreciate the birds and they will prosper and continue to enhance the quality of life in the beaches and bays of the East.


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