Rainbow Lorikeets are abundant and a menace

RainbowLorriket

Birdlife Australia has recently released the results from its annual backyard birds survey and the results are a bit scary. The most frequently seen bird in people’s backyards was the Rainbow Lorikeet in both Australia and in Western Australia. The survey was completed by over 42,000 nature loving Australians between 19-25 October 2015 and recorded more than 1,000,000 individual birds.

Common name WA Bird Count Common name National Bird Count
Rainbow Lorikeet 5,860 Rainbow Lorikeet 99,602
Galah 4,815 Noisy Miner 49,991
New Holland Honeyeater 4,114 Australian Magpie 43,022
Australian Raven 4,012 Sulphur-crested Cockatoo 34,035
Australian Magpie 3,960 House Sparrow 27,746
Red Wattlebird 3,655 Galah 27,598
Silver Gull 3,631 Red Wattlebird 22,649
Australian Ringneck 3,114 Common Myna 21,579
Pacific Black Duck 2,871 Welcome Swallow 21,247
Australian White Ibis 2,310 Silver Gull 20,756

In the south-west of WA the Rainbow Lorikeet (Trichoglossus haematodus) is a feral species. The Department of Parks and Wildlife has these birds listed as ‘acclimatised fauna’ which recognises that Rainbow Lorikeets are native birds living in the wild as a result of being released, escaping or being the off-spring of released or escaped birds. The acclimatised fauna notice also states that Rainbow Lorikeets can be shot on private lands in the south-west land division without the need for a damage licence from DPaW.

The Department of Agriculture and Food has declared Rainbow Lorikeets a ‘declared pest’ in southern parts of Western Australia. Had relevant government agencies moved quickly to eradicate this species when they were few in number in the late 1960s, then we would not have had the current problem, as it damages fruit (e.g. table grapes), fouls outdoor areas and provides competition to native species in foraging and nesting locations.

This beautifully coloured bird is an environmental menace as it bullies native birds out of their nesting sites and devastates local fruit farms. Although unconfirmed, it is thought that a few birds were released in 1968 and their numbers have increased annually. Not only are they a spectacularly coloured bird which is readily recognised, but their loud screeching calls advertise their presence in a tree. The Rainbow Lorikeet is regularly seen in open woodlands, often near water, and they seem to have a preference for lemon-scented gum, coral tree, fig, date palm, cotton palm and Norfolk Island pine.

The Department of Agriculture and Food has indicated that the Sulphur-crested Cockatoo is the 3rd and the Rainbow Lorikeet the 6th highest priority pest species in WA. The legal status of Rainbow Lorikeets means that government, private landholders including fruit growers and local government councils need to regularly reduce their numbers. Management is difficult and costly so co-operative arrangements between local government authorities and neighbouring private landholders are likely to be much more effective, than the ‘going it alone’ approach.

For fruit growers, enclosing the entire crop under netting is an effective long-term and humane method, but it has a high initial capital outlay. Using noise to scare birds from a foraging or roosting site can also be effective, but is generally not an alternative in public locations. Shooting appears to be one of the most effective strategies to reducing Rainbow Lorikeet numbers. When done by competent individuals this method is humane and an effective method when used intensively to reduce numbers. Safety is an important consideration, and arrangements with the local police and local government councils are strongly recommended.

If you have Rainbow Lorikeets frequenting your area or know of areas where they roost, please email or comment below. We are collating a list of known priority areas and will approach the relevant agencies to implement appropriate control measures. Rainbow Lorikeets are a menace to native hollow nesting birds and we can all play a part in controlling this pest species.

Print Friendly

Comments

20 Responses to “Rainbow Lorikeets are abundant and a menace”

  1. Clare Caldeira on December 11th, 2015 12:47 pm

    There are huge numbers of rainbow Lorrikeets and galahs in my area currently. I live in Saint James (near Higgins park) There isn’t a massive amount of bush in my area but I’ve noticed a worring decline in number of both Carnabys and redtail Cockatoos.They have been polishing off seeds frommy Acacia saligna and more recently the flowers from my Marri tree.

  2. Scott Thompson on December 11th, 2015 1:30 pm

    Thanks for the records Clare. Although they use different sized hollows, I too am worried that they might be forcing out the Black Cockatoos. They will be come more of a problem if the food requirements overlap too much and the Rainbow Lorikeet numbers go up further.

  3. Lyn Osborne on December 12th, 2015 11:06 am

    Rainbow Lorrikeets are now regularly visiting our 8 acre property in Wandi. This is a recent occurrence of the past three or four years. We live just south of Rowley Road and 2km east of the Kwinana Freeway.

    We have also have galahs, bronzewings and the occasional turtle dove, New Holland Honeyeaters, Ravens, Ringnecks (287’s) Willy Wagtails, Magpies, a FEW carnaby cockatoos feeding but not nesting (both red and white tailed) Wattlebirds, Pacific Black Ducks who think our pool is theirs at breeding time, an Ibis or two on rare occasions, pardelotes galore, bluewrens, and other species. My major concern is the competition for nesting sites.

    I have no idea what we can do to discourage their visits as I don’t want to drive off the local species that belong here.

  4. Joel Williams on December 12th, 2015 11:36 am

    There are a large number of rainbow lorrikeets in the Kardinya area and are roosting in some of the old trees in western fringe of Morris Buzacott Reserve where we also occasionally see Carnbys feeding.

  5. Vicki on December 12th, 2015 1:41 pm

    Up until about five years ago we didn’t see them here in Gooseberry Hill. Now we have them coming quite regularly and flocks in some streets, especially where feed is put out for the birds. It is quite worrying as their numbers are increasing and we are seeing less of the native birds

  6. Cate Tauss on December 13th, 2015 9:04 am

    Well done for taking on this issue Scott!
    Got a lot of response and ‘shares’ from my post on Wildflower Society FaceBook Site. I do hope LGAs and DPAW support you on this.
    I am amazed how many Lorikeets I see- at dusk almost every dense-crowned near railway stations along the Joondalup line seems to to be invaded by them. I just hope is not too late to control them!!!!!

  7. Scott Thompson on December 13th, 2015 9:36 am

    Thanks Cate for forwarding this around and thanks to everyone for providing the details of roosts and areas where they concentrate the feeding activity. The Rainbow Lorikeets are at an early stage in the process of becoming a real nuisance. If something is done in the next couple of years we have a chance (although small) of controlling the numbers, however, once they get a foothold on the Swan Coastal Plain, we will never be able to control them effectively and they will spread throughout the SW and beyond.

  8. Joan Millington on December 13th, 2015 9:56 am

    There are many large groups in my area, they roost in large trees in the Irwin barracks and at graylands hospital. I’m sure they must be affecting the native birds between bold park and kings park as they are roosting right in the middle of the Green pathway between those two places.

  9. Scott Thompson on December 13th, 2015 10:19 am

    Thanks Joan. There are also lots at Karrakatta cemetery and the Underwood Ave bushland. I wonder if they are the same flocks or just more flocks?

  10. Mary-Helen Smith on December 13th, 2015 1:18 pm

    Unfortunately, we have seen an influx of these pests in Boya over the past few years. They have effectively taken over nesting holes in my backyard – and elsewhere – in this suburb. Would love to have them eradicated as would many of my neighbours.

  11. Scott Thompson on December 13th, 2015 2:22 pm

    They never used to be up in the hills, but more recently it seems they are spreading out that way. Thanks for the information

  12. brenda killisch von horn on December 13th, 2015 9:08 pm

    Yes Boya. Groups frequenting some of our larger trees in the streets. Would love to have them eradicated before more harm to our local birds habitat.thanks

  13. Scott Thompson on December 14th, 2015 8:10 am

    It seems that the hills are now also a problem for these birds. Lot of large trees and a food resource that they haven’t exploited yet. I wonder how much further they will spread?

  14. Tonja Boyd on December 17th, 2015 12:23 pm

    Hi Scott – so glad someone is taking on this issue!

    We have regular lorikeet visits to our callistemon and ornamental fig in Heathridge. Numbers were noticeably greater this year.

  15. Scott Thompson on December 17th, 2015 1:07 pm

    Thanks for the support. I am not sure how much support I will get from local government in addressing the issue, but I will certainly be trying.

  16. Robin Leow on December 20th, 2015 7:27 am

    Rainbow Lorikeets are invading Bold Park and Kings Park in Perth, WA. These parks hold among the largest remaining bushland remnants in the urban area of the Swan Coastal Plain. Local birds are being driven away by the Rainbow Lorikeets. Currently, both Bold Park and Kings Park have among the lowest bird species count in the Perth Region. Let me know how I can help in the eradication of the Rainbow Lorikeets. Robin.

  17. Scott Thompson on December 20th, 2015 12:38 pm

    The Kings Park Authority is one of the groups I will be contacting. They manage huge bush land areas and can easily make a difference by controlling the Rainbow Lorikeets. Even just target the nesting birds would make a huge difference. I will keep everyone informed of our progress early in 2016.

  18. Margaret Collins on December 20th, 2015 9:36 am

    About 6-8 rainbow lorikeets lived and bred on the UWA campus in the early 1980’s when I worked there. They were not there when I was a student in the late 1970s. These birds were reported to the APB who stated that they were not a problem and would not survive outside the specialised environment of the university campus. They have since spread out across the metropolitan area, are continuing to spread further afield and in 2013 became a declared pest. It would have been a lot easier to remove the birds living on the UWA than try to eradicate them from the area they now inhabit.

    This should have been a lesson in taking prompt action but the APB is still reticent to take action against pests and weeds. The APB needs funding and staff.

  19. Scott Thompson on December 20th, 2015 12:42 pm

    I agree that dealing with ‘pests’ is best when they are first discovered, however, funding is rarely available when the numbers are low. Funding typically only becomes available when the problem is significant and then it is often too late.

    Funding and staffing is only one part of the puzzle – community awareness is another major component.

  20. David on October 29th, 2016 10:22 am

    Rainbows and Red Tail do not eat the same food , the Rainbows eat nectar from blossoms , Red Tails eat seeds from any source they can

Got something to say?