In the last few weeks I’ve been hearing these birds again – sounding rather like rainbow lorikeets, but higher-pitched, much more squeak than squawk—and eventually I got fairly close to some, high in a flowering eucalypt in Brennan Park. The small group of Musk Lorikeets (Glossopsitta concinna) was back in the area after a break of several months, chattering as they went about gathering their breakfast from the eucalyptus flowers. Conditions weren’t sympathetic for photography, but I got some reasonable shots.
Musk lorikeets seem to be gradually increasing their presence on Sydney’s Lower North Shore. I only started hearing and then seeing them in the North Sydney-Lane Cove area about 6 years ago, and now they are regular visitors. I’ve also seen a couple of flocks in the St Ives area.
Unlike their rainbow lorikeet cousins, musk lorikeets seldom feed on smaller flowering shrubs and trees, preferring taller treetops. But about 18 months ago I saw two of them low down in a bottlebrush tree near our house, and I was able to get reasonably close. This was one of those birds.
Although beautiful little birds, I couldn’t help thinking that whoever designed their colour scheme could have coordinated it better. That lustrous green is gorgeous, as are the individual shades of red and blue, but the red and blue together aren’t particularly harmonious, and the brown patch between their wings doesn’t seem to belong at all.
And to cap it all, Sod’s law of photography had dictated that the more cooperative of the pair I was photographing had a deformed beak, causing it to dribble nectar down its front.
Musk lorikeet feeding habits are typical of the lorikeet family. They use their brush tongues to lick up nectar and any insects they come across in the flowers they feed from. They also feed on lerp (a sugary scale exuded by many eucalypts), and enjoy figs and other fruit.
Talking of fruit, the other time I was able to get close to musk lorikeets was last year in Orford, Tasmania. The B&B we were staying in had a number of fruit trees, and there were several musk lorikeets making free with the fruit.
Obviously Tasmania is still the Apple Isle as far as these little parrots are concerned!
North Sydney – my home suburb – holds Sydney’s second largest CBD. However its parks and bushland areas, and those of neighbouring councils such as Willoughby, host a surprising variety of native flora and fauna. These bush areas are maintained by dedicated council staff, often working with local resident volunteers.