Lories and lorikeets
Rainbow Lorikeet (H. t. moluccanus)
at Nelson Bay, NSW, Australia.
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Clade: Inopinaves
Order: Psittaciformes
Superfamily: Psittacoidea
Family: Psittaculidae
Subfamily: Psittaculinae
Tribe: Loriini
Selby, 1836

Lories and lorikeets (tribe Loriini) are small to medium-sized arboreal parrots characterized by their specialized brush-tipped tongues for feeding on nectar of various blossoms and soft fruits, preferably berries. The species form a monophyletic group within the parrot family Psittacidae. Traditionally, they were considered a separate subfamily (Loriinae) from the other subfamily (Psittacinae) based on the specialized characteristics, but recent molecular and morphological studies show that the group is positioned in the middle of various other groups. They are widely distributed throughout the Australasian region, including south-eastern Asia, Polynesia, Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste and Australia, and the majority have very brightly coloured plumage.


The usage of the terms "lory" and "lorikeet" is subjective, like the usage of "parrot" and "parakeet". Species with longer tapering tails are generally referred to as "lorikeets", while species with short blunt tails are generally referred to as "lories".[1]

Division of Rainbow Lorikeet

Coconut Lorikeet,
Trichoglossus haematodus
  haematodus, intermedius, nigrogularis,
caeruleiceps, micropteryx, massena,
nesophilus, flavicans, and deplanchii
Biak Lorikeet,
Trichoglossus rosenbergii
Rainbow Lorikeet,
Trichoglossus moluccanus
  septentrionalis, moluccanus,
and eyrei


Traditionally, lories and lorikeets have either been classified as the subfamily, Loriinae, or as a family on their own, Loriidae,[2] but they are currently classified as a tribe. Neither traditional view is confirmed by molecular studies. Those studies show that the lories and lorikeets form a single group, closely related to the budgerigar and the fig parrots (Cyclopsitta and Psittaculirostris).[3][4][5][6][7]

Two main groups are recognized within the lories and lorikeets. The first consist of the genus Charmosyna[3][4] and the closely related Pacific Ocean genera Phigys and Vini.[3] All remaining genera, except Oreopsittacus are in the second group.[3][4] The position of Oreopsittacus is unknown, although one study suggests it could be a third group next to the other two.[7]


Classification of parrots in the tribe, Loriini:

  • Genus Oreopsittacus
Lories and lorikeets























Oreopsittacus (position uncertain)


Cyclopsitta and Psittaculirostris and Budgerigar

Phylogeny of the genera of lories and lorikeets with their closest relatives, the fig parrots (Cyclopsitta and Psittaculirostris) and Budgerigar, based on the available literature[3][4][5][6][7]



Lories and lorikeets have specialized brush-tipped tongues for feeding on nectar and soft fruits. They can feed from the flowers of about 5,000 species of plants and use their specialised tongues to take the nectar. The tip of their tongues have tufts of papillae (extremely fine hairs), which collect nectar and pollen.

Lorikeets have tapered wings and pointed tails that allow them to fly easily and display great agility.[citation needed] They also have strong feet and legs. They tend to be hyperactive and clownish in personality both in captivity and the wild.[citation needed]

The multi-coloured Rainbow Lorikeet was one of the species of parrots appearing in the first edition of The Parrots of the World and also in John Gould's lithographs of the Birds of Australia. Then and now, lories and lorikeets are describedTemplate:By whom as some of the most beautiful species of parrot.


In the wild, lorikeets feed on nectar and pollen from plants and flowers. A companion lorikeet however requires a special diet, which makes them less than ideal for a beginner bird owner. A companion bird's diet should consist of a nectar replacement diet, which are available commercially or can be made by the owner. There are two main types of nectar replacement, namely wet mix and dry mix. These mixes come in powder form, the former requires to be mixed with water to create a porridge-like consistency, the latter is to be fed as is. If feeding dry mix, plenty of fresh drinking water needs to be made available for the bird. If the bird is fed on wet mix, their requirements for drinking will be reduced, as the feed contains a large amount of water, however fresh drinking water should still be made available.

Companion lorikeets also need their diet supplemented with fresh fruit and vegetables on a daily basis. A variety of different coloured fruit and vegetables should be made available. A favourite of lorikeets appears to be spinach or silverbeet leaves, and will provide calcium for the bird. Due to the shape of their beak and tongue, rarely will a lorikeet use a cuttlefish for calcium intake. Other kinds of fruits and vegetables frequently enjoyed by lorikeets include apples, pears, corn on the cob, berries, grapes (only to be fed in small amounts as the high iron content in grapes can cause liver damage), pumpkins, sweet potatoes, and citrus fruits once a week. Honey is also a favourite of lorikeets, and can be used as a treat or a reward when training a bird.

Do not feed a lorikeet (or any other bird) avocado, onion, chocolate, caffeine or alcohol. These foods contain chemicals which are lethal to birds.

Due to the largely liquid diet of lorikeets, their droppings are also of a very liquid nature, making them one of the messier companion birds to keep.


File:Rainbow Lorikeet (Trichoglossus haematodus) -drinking.jpg

The Ultramarine Lorikeet is endangered. It is now one of the 50 rarest birds in the world. The Blue Lorikeet is classified as vulnerable. The introduction of European rats to the small island habitats of these birds is a major cause of their endangerment.[10] Various conservation efforts have been made to relocate some of these birds to locations free of predation and habitat destruction.



  1. ^ Low, Rosemary (1998). Hancock House Encyclopedia of the Lories. Hancock House. pp. 85–87. ISBN 0-88839-413-6. 
  2. ^ Forshaw, Joseph M.; Cooper, William T. (1981) [1973, 1978]. Parrots of the World (corrected second ed.). David & Charles, Newton Abbot, London. ISBN 0-7153-7698-5.  Cite uses deprecated parameter |coauthors= (help)
  3. ^ a b c d e Wright, T.F.; Schirtzinger E. E.; Matsumoto T.; Eberhard J. R.; Graves G. R.; Sanchez J. J.; Capelli S.; Muller H.; Scharpegge J.; Chambers G. K.; Fleischer R. C. (2008). "A Multilocus Molecular Phylogeny of the Parrots (Psittaciformes): Support for a Gondwanan Origin during the Cretaceous". Mol Biol Evol. 25 (10): 2141–56. PMC 2727385Freely accessible. PMID 18653733. doi:10.1093/molbev/msn160.  Cite uses deprecated parameter |coauthors= (help)
  4. ^ a b c d Astuti, Dwi; Azuma,Noriko; Suzuki, Hitoshi ; Higashi, Seigo (2006). "Phylogenetic relationships within parrots (Psittacidae) inferred from mitochondrial cytochrome-b gene sequences.". Zoological Science. 23 (2): 191–98. PMID 16603811. doi:10.2108/zsj.23.191.  Cite uses deprecated parameter |coauthors= (help)
  5. ^ a b de Kloet, RS; de Kloet SR (2005). "The evolution of the spindlin gene in birds: Sequence analysis of an intron of the spindlin W and Z gene reveals four major divisions of the Psittaciformes". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 36 (3): 706–721. PMID 16099384. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2005.03.013.  Cite uses deprecated parameter |coauthors= (help)
  6. ^ a b Tokita, M; Kiyoshi T and Armstrong KN (2007). "Evolution of craniofacial novelty in parrots through developmental modularity and heterochrony". Evolution & Development. 9 (6): 590–601. PMID 17976055. doi:10.1111/j.1525-142X.2007.00199.x.  Cite uses deprecated parameter |coauthors= (help)
  7. ^ a b c Christidis, L., L.; R. Schodde, D. D. Shaw, and S. F. Maynes. (1991). "Christidis, L., R. Schodde, D. D. Shaw, and S. F. Maynes. 1991. Relationships among the Australo-Papuan parrots, lorikeets, and cockatoos (Aves, Psittaciformes) - protein evidence.". Condor. 93: 302–17. doi:10.2307/1368946.  Cite uses deprecated parameter |coauthors= (help)
  8. ^ [1]
  9. ^ [2]
  10. ^ Steadman D, (2006). Extinction and Biogeography in Tropical Pacific Birds, University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-77142-7

External links

Template:Lories and lorikeets

Blood Pheasant This article is part of Project Bird Subfamilies, a All Birds project that aims to write comprehensive articles on each bird subfamily, including made-up families.
Hemipus picatus This article is part of Project Bird Taxonomy, a All Birds project that aims to write comprehensive articles on every order, family and other taxonomic rank related to birds.
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