Musk Lorikeet

Quick Facts

Length: 22 cm
Height: -
Weight: 70 grams
Colour: -
Habitat: Tall, open, dry forest and woodlands
Food: Pollen and nectar from eucalypts, seeds, fruits, insects and their larvae
Predators: -
Status: Not Present in WA & NT. Secure in all other states and territories in Australia

The Musk Lorikeet is a medium-sized, sturdy lorikeet, sometimes seen in large flocks when trees are flowering and often in mixed flocks with other parrots and other birds. They are active and noisy. This lorikeet is mostly green, with a yellow patch at the side of the breast. It has a bright red forehead and band through the eye to the ear coverts. The crown is blue, with females having less blue than males. In flight, brown flight feathers and the golden tail are revealed. Flight is fast and direct, with short angular wings and a medium-length, pointed to wedge-shaped tail.

Musk Lorikeets are bigger and have a longer tail than Purple-crowned Lorikeets, or Little Lorikeets and are smaller than Scaly-breasted Lorikeets with a much shorter tail. The Musk Lorikeet has obvious yellow patches on the side of the breast in flight and a prominent red band on the face. The call in flight, a harsh rolling screech, is also helpful.

Musk Lorikeets are endemic to (only found in) south-eastern Australia, being widespread in eastern New South Wales, all regions of Victoria and in the south-east of South Australia.

Musk Lorikeets are gregarious, often mixing with other parrots when feeding, including Scaly-breasted Lorikeets, Little Lorikeets and Swift Parrots.

Musk Lorikeets are found in tall, open, dry forest and woodlands, dominated by eucalypts and are usually found in the canopy. They are also seen in suburban areas, parks and street trees. They roost or loaf in tall trees away from their feeding sites.

They are considered nomadic, following the flowering or fruiting of food trees and they travel widely for food.

Musk Lorikeets feed in all levels of the canopy and are very active when foraging. They eat mainly pollen and nectar from eucalypts using their specialised brush-tipped tongues, but also eat seeds, fruits and insects and their larvae.

Musk Lorikeets breed in hollow branches and holes in living eucalypts, often near watercourses. The entrance holes are usually very small, so they have to squeeze in. Eggs are laid on a base of chewed or decayed wood. The female incubate the eggs and both parents roost in the hollow at night.

Declines in Musk Lorikeet populations have been caused by the clearance of eucalypts for agriculture, but they may benefit from plantings in towns. They do not inhabit logged forest. Some birds may be a pest in orchards.

Author: Rosalyn Plunkett
Last Updated: Thursday 18th July, 2013
BirdLife Australia -


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