Newspaper article Daily Examiner (Grafton, Australia)

Stop Killing Them with Kindness; the Problem with Feeding Lorikeets

Newspaper article Daily Examiner (Grafton, Australia)

Stop Killing Them with Kindness; the Problem with Feeding Lorikeets

Article excerpt

MANY people have taken to encouraging lorikeets into their gardens by giving them foods usually based on sugar, honey or jam. However, it is this very act of 'kindness' that can cause the death of lorikeets at an unnaturally early age.

The only feeding method recommended by OEH is to plant a variety of flowering native shrubs, such as grevilleas, callistemon (bottlebrushes) and banksias around your garden. These plants not only look good; they also provide safe, healthy food for blossom-feeding birds such as lorikeets and honeyeaters.

Lorikeet feeding habits

Lorikeets are brightly coloured parrots of the family Psittacidae and sub-family Loriinae (lories and lorikeets). Six species are found in Australia.

The tip of a lorikeet's tongue holds a brush-like appendage, enabling the bird to feed on pollen, nectar and fruits. Because lorikeets are mainly seen feeding on blossoms, it was long thought that nectar was their staple diet. However, studies have now shown that pollen is probably their major food. They also eat insects and insect larvae, together with other invertebrates found in foliage and blossom.

Lorikeets travel in small, swift flocks which attract attention with their piercing calls. The birds locate blossoms by sight and by the calls of other birds already feeding. When food is abundant, large numbers gather in the blossoms and foliage, clamouring noisily.

Lorikeets have a very simple digestive system. Proteins and fats are obtained from pollen and insects, and carbohydrates come from the sugars found in nectar. They spend a large amount of time foraging for food, which indicates that carbohydrates are extremely important to them. Their diet is high in energy, and low in protein.

Feeding lorikeets can cause disease and death

Necrotising enteritis

A bacteria called clostridia is the organism responsible for the disease Necrotising enteritis in lorikeets. …

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