Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Rainbow Lorikeets in "Flowering Gum Tree"

All Gum Trees flower, but the flowers of the so-called "Flowering Gum Tree" are truly spectacular.
Corymbia ficifolia - "Flowering Gum Tree"
But what's in a name? It is now called Corymbia ficifolia.

The original species was red, but pink and orange forms have been "selected" by nursery-operators and then grafted on ot fungus-resistant root-stock, making this West Australian native tree suitable as a garden plant in the eastern States. So much so that this specimen was growing in a car park in Nowra's shopping area (on the South Coast of NSW).

But here is the reason I took the photograph. There was a pair of Rainbow Lorikeets (Trichoglossus haematodus)  feeding enthusiastically amongst the flowers. The Lorikeet group of parrots are specialist nectar feeders, with a modified tongue, which has a brush-like surface making them perfect nectar feeders.

But then there is the colour blend. These parrots are so brightly coloured one could hardly imagine that they could "blend in" - but if you check the photo above, you will see that they can and do camouflage brilliantly in this bright tree.
Rainbow Lorikeet
 This next bird presumably is just "caught" at a moment of blinking, but it looks as if it is falling asleep. Perhaps it was bored with posing for my camera?

Have you finished taking photos? I'm bored!
Stunning birds, but almost a nuisance these days, as they have been advantaged by our penchant for planting gardens which attract birds. They have spread down the NSW coast, and along the Gippsland coast of Victoria, and into Melbourne. They are also common in Adelaide and Perth, but as those populations are "disjunct", those populations are presumably based upon caged-bird escapees.

Recently they have arrived in Canberra, and the question is being asked there by Canberra Ornithologists as to whether to not they are natural arrivals of escaped birds, or indeed descendants from some birds apparently deliberately released. Experience shows that once they arrive they will "naturalise" very quickly. Trouble is they are so active, they tend to out-compete the quieter species of parrots, such as the Eastern Rosella and Crimson Rosella.


rohrerbot said...

What a beautiful bird! It will be interesting to see how they will fit in with the community.

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Rohrerbot,
It is a stunning bird, isn't it?
It is a case of a natural success story which is perhaps too successful.
People love to feed them, and grow plants the birds love, so we are changing the environment to suit them.
I don't get them naturally in Robertson at present, but I have seen a few fly over.
This was taken at Nowra, on the coastal strip below the mountains where I live. The Lorikeets are natural there, but increasing in numbers, it seems. One doesn't find them out in the bush much, mostly in the towns. That tells me they are "self-selecting" to live with people.
An interesting adaptation.