Rainbow Lorikeets are abundant and a menace


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.

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44 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

  21. Barb Paterson on January 16th, 2018 7:09 pm

    Rainbow lorrikeets have finally hit Mandurah, very noticeable since September 2016. there are at least 2 breading pairs in Silver Sands. Looks like we will have to say sorry and good bye to our lovely red caps, regent and ring neck parrots as there are not too many trees left down this way as nesting sites now that new suburbs have removed the natural wood lands. Have reported to State Dept, but they don’t have many options to help

  22. Scott Thompson on January 16th, 2018 7:51 pm

    Like most biosecurity problems a small amount of money spent early (i.e. remove the 2 breeding pairs) CAN make a massive difference. I suggest you speak to the local council and approach the Department again. If you are still having problems please contact us again and we will assist.

  23. Trish Haste on March 9th, 2018 11:00 pm

    Rainbow lorrikeets are increasing in number along the Canning river in Langford over the last year.

  24. Tania on April 4th, 2018 3:22 pm

    I have just moved houses in South Australia. And have noticed in my neighbours backyard, there is a massive yellow folowring gun tree, that Rainbow Lorikeets have invaded. I mean thousands of them. The sound is deafening. I was sitting outside on my patio with my friend about 3pm in the afternoon & we couldn’t hear ourselves talk they were so loud. They start about 6am, when they are at their loudest, they may or may not move over to a tree on the other side of the street but you can be sure they’ll come back to this tree within a couple of hours. Is this going to be the case all year round? The locals say its seasonal. But we’re in autumn. I’m a bit upset about the noise factor 🙁 can anyone give me advice on how long this “seasonal feeding” on a flowering gum tree can go on for? They don’t seem to be scared of anything. MY poor cat is scared of them & won’t go outside. There is a fig tree in the neighbours backyard too, so we have possums & bats also. I moved from a house where the gumtree was right infront of our house but on council land, and caused so much debre to my land, was quite happy to move away from it, but now this. Just doesn’t seem fair. My street seems sooo quiet all except for my house & my neighbours because of the birds in her tree. :(:(

  25. Jill on September 30th, 2018 6:26 am

    Have a flock of rainbow lorikeets that roost in gum trees in and around our Melbourne suburban backyard. In particular, a bushy sugar gum that overhangs my rotary clothes hoist. So on top of the extremely loud noise they make, they also make extra work for me having to re-wash numerous soiled items off the line. I’m a bit over them. Is it a seasonal problem? Will they move on?

  26. Scott Thompson on September 30th, 2018 7:48 am

    I am not based on the east coast so not sure about your situation but in Perth the birds will feed on the plants that flower seasonally but tend to roost in the same location all the time. If you google search there are lots of methods for disturbing the birds which may encourage them to roost elsewhere (i.e. lights, noise, mirrors etc)

  27. Clare on January 24th, 2019 6:12 pm

    Staying at Coffin Bay campsite. Although getting used to their nose at night there are hundreds of them here!!!!

  28. Rebecca Rebecca on January 27th, 2019 4:54 pm

    I am in the same situation as Tania!
    I am on the Sunshine Coast at Picnic Point (Maroochydore) and there are thousands and thousands of them.
    They start at about 5pm and by 6.00pm its deafening!! I cant hear the TV, so have to close all the windows up.
    There is bird droppings EVERYWHERE!!!
    They dont stop!! They are still deafening at 10pm, 11pm … I have to sleep with a small fan on high to provide white noise, just so I can sleep. They woke me up at 2am last night. They literally dont stop!! ALL NIGHT!!
    Like Tania’s question, when will they stop?
    Is it a Eucalyptus flowering issue?
    There are a few big eucalyptus trees down by the river, but it’s OUT OF CONTROL!!
    There’s a bird lady who also feeds them!!! FFS.

  29. Lyn on January 28th, 2019 5:58 am

    I am also having a nightmare with my elderly neighbour feeding the lorikeets in large numbers as well as attracting large numbers of miner My house is located down below and she lives above me. At the back of our property is council reserve where she feeds them twice a day as early as 5am and again in the afternoon.. sutherland council and wildlife parks officers have been to see her and seemed to have no effect. The lorikeets in large numbers fly over my property and over the pool, yard and our cars during the feed and bird droppings and noise is our major concerns. We removed our clothes line due to bird droppings. I also noticed the the lorikeets are hanging around in the area waiting for the next feed. My area is usually quite until my neighbour throws large quantity of bread and other food scraps at the reserve. The noise is deafening and disturbing our sleep. We write her letters but she won’t stop!!!!

  30. Mr Grumpy on June 5th, 2019 6:51 am

    The Rainbow Lorikeet is a native bird and apart from the backward thinking of WA is protected. So instead of declaring it a pest, why not get those that are supposed to manage our wildlife in WA use their brains to find a way to control the numbers, instead of taking the easy way out and declaring them a pest which literally puts them on the hit list for extermination.

  31. Tracey on August 4th, 2019 4:52 pm

    Sydney Bondi area.
    ?Please advise!! How do you stop a neighbour 2 doors from us feeding all the scratching, screeching flee invested pigeons, lorikeets & Currawongs? It’s been 6 months of screeching hell from the 6am feed, then all day they wait for their 4.30-6pm feed. Cars are covered in bird mess. I’ve asked her to please stop.. she said F off you CROW!!! How can we work, choreograph, uni study or rest? Sick child in hospital doc says go home get some rest!! Not fair.. council can’t help us. Others are retired don’t care. Water restrictions.. poo everywhere!!! Thanks for your time I’m just really upset shaking ..my family & property .. so much noise & so much bird poo. Amazing. Pls don’t say move I know that.

  32. Scott Thompson on August 5th, 2019 9:58 am

    You only option is to report it to the local council. Feeding wildlife is bad for the birds and probably against the NSW legislation (definitely is against WA legislation). The local council may have a mechanism under the local health regulations to stop it

  33. Leon on December 10th, 2019 2:27 pm

    I have several large lemon scented gums on my property in Melbourne. Besides local bats & possums R. Lorikeets in ever increasing numbers have recently (2-3yrs)starting feeding on them. Besides the incredible noise the mess they leave is everywhere. The canopies are too high for an effective deterrence. I have given up on my fruit trees. Any suggestions?

  34. Cathy on February 10th, 2020 12:58 pm

    I live on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland and the lorikeets have become the dominant bird.
    The old man next door was even feeding hundreds everyday and we could no longer hear anything inside our own home and my kids couldn’t study or play outside because of the noise and swooping. Since making a complaint he has rang every agency to get me in trouble for different things. We no longer get pretty much any other birds because the lorikeets chase them out. Apparently the local golf club feeds them too. Am I the only person worried about the overpopulation and destruction these animals cause?

  35. Scott Thompson on March 22nd, 2020 9:17 am

    The numbers are increasing but there is not much you can do on the east coast as they are a native species. Reducing the availability of ‘artificial’ food sources is the best suggestion

  36. Georgia Goodsell on May 3rd, 2020 1:39 pm

    For those living in Queensland, there is a petition around the responsible feeding of wild birds. Please copy and paste the web address below into your browser and sign the petition if you want things to change.


  37. George Luther on October 20th, 2020 4:02 pm

    Lorikeets have hit the suburbs of Hawthorn and Kew in massive numbers and are starting to nest on my guttering /roof. They are incredibly noisy and move around in ‘flying packs’ scaring all the other native birds. What can I do as they’re smart, fast and cunning, to say the least.

  38. Cathy Gridley on May 8th, 2021 8:44 am

    Please help. The Sunshine Coast has got ridiculous with the lorikeets. I live near the Caloundra golf course who feeds these pests snd I do not have one minute of silence the whole days until about 7 at night. I have severe ptsd from this as I here these sounds non stop. I have cancer and have three autistic sound sensitive children and 7 kids in total and have asked various agencies and the gold course for help and no one listens

  39. Scott Thompson on May 14th, 2021 7:50 pm

    Sadly as native species the only thing you can do is keep requesting that they do not feed and attract the birds. I would continue to approach the local government wildlife agency and council.

  40. Amanda on December 29th, 2022 4:55 pm

    Our neighbour has 3 massive lemon scented gum trees. Each year the lorakeets come to feed and each year their numbers increase. There is a deafening cacophony of screeching that starts about 0430 am till dusk. The noise rated a peak of 80 decibels when recorded. We are at our wits end with the constant noise and don’t want to sell our home because of birds but may have to. We can’t park our cars in our own driveway either as they get covered in excrement. I wish we knew a way to eradicate these annoying, life affecting birds!

  41. Scott Thompson on December 30th, 2022 6:33 am

    In WA the Rainbow Lorikeet is a declared pest, but is essentially ignored in the urban areas as the problem has got to large to control. In the eastern states they are a native species (although annoying species). The trick with bird management is to make their life unpleasant so they will find somewhere else to roost. Have you tried shining lights or lazers (check on the types you are allowed to legally use) into the trees. This will often disrupt their sleep and they will move elsewhere.

  42. Jane on March 13th, 2023 4:17 am

    Huge number of rainbow lorrikeets fly into dolphin st randwick and beach st every morning for few hours and clean out any Ava food sources. Local kookaburras disappear while they are around I’m afraid the lorrikeets will take over the kookaburras area. People PLEASE stop feeding the rainbow lorrikeets they are a pest bird

  43. Nicole Murray on April 5th, 2023 9:02 am

    I have copious amounts of lorekeets in my garden. Although they r beautful to look at, the noise is unbearable. I want to find bird safe/animal friendly solution to move them on but also not affect the magpies or other breeds. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you so much

  44. Scott Thompson on April 5th, 2023 12:51 pm

    The legislation and management options are different for each state. In Western Australia DBCA and DPIRD are responsible for managing the birds and provide options for the community.

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