By Marj Webber

MUSK LORIKEETS. Birds. Native Australian wildlife.

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Tags: MUSK LORIKEETS. Birds. Native Australian wildlife.


Many of the eucalypts on Bribie Island are flowering profusely at the moment and among these creamy blooms feasting on pollen and nectar with their brush tongues are scores and scores of Lorikeets. Feeding with our resident Rainbow and Scaly-breasted Lorikeets are some very rare visitors in Musk Lorikeets.

Over the years there have only been a few recorded sightings of these birds on the island. These sightings were mostly in winter. They are usually found further south down as far as Victoria and eastern South Australia. When their food source becomes scarce in one area they move to other areas in search of the favoured Gum blossoms. They have been on Bribie Island since April and will probably remain until the food dries up then fly elsewhere in search of other flowering eucalypts.

Banksia Beach, Bibimulya Wetlands and Buckley’s Hole are places where they have been spotted lately on Bribie but any flowering Gum where lorikeets are feeding is a likely spot to see the Musk Lorikeets. As they feed in the canopies on high trees they are usually difficult to see. As well as their main diet of pollen and nectar they eat insects and their larvae, seeds, and fruit. They are considered a pest by some fruit farmers. When their food supply is low and fruit crops are within reach they often descend upon the crops and destroy the fruit.

Musk Lorikeets are 21-23 cm and weigh approximately 71 g which is a little smaller than our common Rainbows and of similar size to the Scaly-breasted. Green is their predominant colour with bright red strips on the face and forehead and on the tip of their bills. Their crown is blue and there is a yellow patch on the side of the breast. Male and female are similar with the female having a slightly smaller and duller blue patch on the head. When feeding they are noisy and active.

MUSK LORIKEETS. Birds. Native Australian wildlife.

Woodlands and open forests are their preferred habitat. If a forest has been logged they will leave the area. Development has robbed them of many of their feeding grounds but they have benefited by plantings of flowering eucalypts in urban areas around and south of Sydney. They are not common north of Sydney. Breeding takes place usually between August and January. Nests are built in hollow branches high up in the trees. The openings are very small and they often have to squeeze their way into the nests. Two white eggs are laid on a little sawdust on the hard surface.

Females incubate the eggs for about 22 days and the males come into the hollow to roost at night. The chicks fledge after 5-6 weeks. Breeding life commences at about 12-14 months and their lifespan is around 15 years. There are seven species of Lorikeets in Australia two of which are breeding residents on Bribie Island. Musk and Little Lorikeets are rare visitors. I was very lucky to get shots of the Musk Lorikeets as they are normally hiding high in the trees and hard to photograph from that distance.

A call from a friend one morning while I was having breakfast alerted me to the fact that there were lots of Musk Lorikeets feeding on low branches on flowering gums at Banksia Beach. I hopped on my bike and was there in 25 minutes and was able to take a few shots of birds playing on a fairly low branch.

Later visits to the same spot have been fruitless. The Lorikeets were there but not coming out to be photographed. Conservation status is considered secure. Population decline is occurring where land has been cleared and increasing where native eucalypts have been planted.

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