I’ve seen a lot of memorable take offs and landings in my time, but few were as spectacular as the sight of a flock of lorikeets gleefully flapping their rainbow wings upon their descent to my hand and the cup of sweet nectar it contained. And the amazing thing is that it happened inside–well, sort of. The outdoor aviary at the center of “Lorikeets: Winged Wonders” at the Living Desert is a free-flying colorful spectacle that lets you get up close to these beautiful and unique members of the parrot family. The sunlight-filled, beautifully-maintained aviary is temporary home to six sub-species of lorikeets and two sub-species of lories, with a grand total of 67 proud birds, the most common residents being the green-naped and blue mountain (Sawinson) lorikeets, which stand out with their wide range of rainbow colors.
Lorikeets are found in nature only in Australia and some islands of Southeast Asia and the Pacific, and they are not your garden variety bird. Feathery fireworks notwithstanding, they are also referred to as honeyeaters or brush-tongue parrots because of the tiny hair-like structures on their tongues that assist them in gathering up nectar from flowers (the birds are natural pollinators, too). I In other words, lories don’t do seeds! You can see this firsthand by bringing a cup of sweet nectar into the aviary…it costs an extra $3 but worth it because once the lories spot it they will literally flock to it like bees to honey, unabashedly landing on your arm, shoulder or even head (though wherever they alight, they will be making a beeline to that nectar!). It is fascinating to watch these perky parrots’ bristle-like tongues drink up the nectar. These playful parrots seem to have a lot to say with their high-pitched but transparently happy chirps. And with their rainbow plumage they are surely among the most beautiful birds anywhere. The friendly little winged wonders are sure to delight bird-lovers of all ages.
General admission to the Living Desert is $19.95, and $3 for non-members to visit the Winged Wonders aviary, which is open daily from 9AM to 4PM. The nectar cup is an additional $3. The lorikeets will be in town until April 30.