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The Ornate Lorikeet – the World’s Most Colorful Parrot? – Part 1

Heat lamp“Most colorful” is a tough title to clench in the parrot world.  The Ornate Lorikeet, Trichoglossus ornatus, however, must surely be a top contender.  In fact, the name “ornate” does it little justice, as would any description of its plumage.  No longer commonly kept in the USA, this is a bird worth searching for in zoos or among large private collections.


The Ornate Lorikeet’s feathers span the rainbow – most are bright green edged in yellow, deep blue or brilliant red edged in dark blue, but there are other colors as well.  The eyes are orange and the beak is a “screaming” orange-red.  It’s hard to imagine all the color that is packed into its 10-inch-long body (please see photo)!

Range and Habitat

Indonesian island of Sulawesi, just east of Borneo, is home to an incredible array of animal “standouts” – black, ape-like monkeys, giant gliding possums and babirusas (odd pigs sporting tusks that grow right their skin, please see photo), to name just a few.  So it seems fitting that a bird so uniquely-colored as the Ornate Lorikeet is found here, and on a few offshore islands, and nowhere else on earth.

Ornate Lorikeets favor mountain forest edges and overgrown scrub, and also frequent villages bordered by dense cover (imagine having these fellows as feeder visitors!).  They are most commonly seen in pairs or small flocks and feed upon flower blossoms, nectar, pollen, fruit and some greens; insects may be taken as well, but field studies are lacking.

Captive History

babirusaI recall caring for Ornate Lorikeets when working for a bird importer as a teenager, but they are not at all common in the USA today.  They have a reputation for being quite delicate as regards temperature, and even long term captive seem prone to respiratory and digestive system distress.  When in the peak of good health, their voices are as loud, and far harsher, than are their colors!

On to diet and general care in Part 2. 

Further Reading

Rare and Popular Lorikeets as Pets

Sulawesi Natural History  

About Frank Indiviglio

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I believe that I was born with an intense interest in animals, as neither I nor any of my family can recall a time when I was not fascinated by creatures large and small. One might imagine this to be an unfortunate set of circumstances for a person born and raised in the Bronx, but, in actuality, quite the opposite was true. Most importantly, my family encouraged both my interest and the extensive menagerie that sprung from it. My mother and grandmother somehow found ways to cope with the skunks, flying squirrels, octopus, caimans and countless other odd creatures that routinely arrived un-announced at our front door. Assisting in hand-feeding hatchling praying mantises and in eradicating hoards of mosquitoes (I once thought I had discovered “fresh-water brine shrimp” and stocked my tanks with thousands of mosquito larvae!) became second nature to them. My mother went on to become a serious naturalist, and has helped thousands learn about wildlife in her 16 years as a volunteer at the Bronx Zoo. My grandfather actively conspired in my zoo-buildings efforts, regularly appearing with chipmunks, boa constrictors, turtles rescued from the Fulton Fish Market and, especially, unusual marine creatures. It was his passion for seahorses that led me to write a book about them years later. Thank you very much, for a complete biography of my experience click here.
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