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Home > Birds > Swainson’s Blue Mountain Lorikeet: Facts, Diet, Care & Pictures

Swainson’s Blue Mountain Lorikeet: Facts, Diet, Care & Pictures

Swainson’s Blue Mountain Lorikeet side view_Jolanda Aalbers_Shutterstock

Like many animals from Australia and the South Pacific, the Swainson’s Blue Mountain Lorikeet features gorgeous colors and unique features. These birds are a medium-sized parrot and belong to a group that is often called the “brush-tongued parrots.” Although beautiful and unique, they aren’t the pet for every household, so it’s important to know what you’re getting into before deciding to bring one of these eye-catching birds home.

divider-birds Species Overview

Common Names: Swainson’s Blue Mountain Lorikeet, Rainbow Lory, Blue Mountain Lory, Swainson’s Lory
Scientific Name: Trichoglossus moluccanus
Adult Size: 12 inches
Life Expectancy: 10 – 20 years

Origin and History

First described by scientists in 1788, the Swainson’s Lory is native to Eastern Australia and some South Pacific islands. They are considered a species of least concern on the IUCN Red List, but they are considered endangered in their natural habitats. At the Currumbin Sanctuary in Palm Beach, Queensland, there is a twice daily feeding of the wild birds that occurs. Visitors are able to offer honey-soaked pieces of bread to the birds, which will perch on the visitors while they feed.

Although these birds are sometimes called the Rainbow Lory, they are not the same Rainbow Lorikeet we are typically familiar with in the United States. The Green Nape Lory was the first of these birds to become popular in the pet trade in the US, and this is the bird that is frequently referred to as the Rainbow Lorikeet. However, in Australia and other parts of the world, the Rainbow Lory or Rainbow Lorikeet often refers to the Swainson’s Blue Mountain Lorikeet.

Temperament

These birds are known for their clownish antics, playful personality, and hyperactive behaviors. They are extremely playful birds, looking for toys everywhere they go. They can be noisy, especially when they are playing with toys or are bored. They are affectionate birds with intelligent behaviors. However, they can become aggressive if they feel like other animals or people are encroaching on their territory.

The Swainson’s Blue Mountain Lorikeet mates for life and can be kept in bonded pairs. However, if you attempt to keep two birds together that aren’t a bonded pair, you’re likely to end up with aggression and potential injuries. These birds require plenty of attention from their owner every day.

Pros
  • Playful and fun
  • Affectionate
  • Intelligent
  • Can be kept in bonded pairs
  • Enjoy time with their owner
Cons
  • Hyperactive
  • Noisy
  • Can become aggressive or territorial
  • Non-bonded birds cannot be kept together

Speech & Vocalizations

Although they are capable of mimicking human speech, they are not as good at it as some other types of parrots. However, they are excellent at mimicking sounds like household noises, a creaking door, video games, telephones, and a car honking. Their natural noises include shrill screeches and chatter, twitter when resting or content, and a musical song.

Swainson’s Blue Mountain Lorikeet Colors and Markings

The Swainson’s Blue Mountain Lorikeet is not sexually dimorphic, so males and females are physically indistinguishable, although males do tend to be somewhat larger than females and may have a larger beak.

Adults have bright and light blue on the head, orange and yellow on the breast, and violet on the abdomen. The wings are green on top with reddish orange and yellow underneath, while the tail is green on top with yellow underneath. The beak and eyes are reddish orange.

Juveniles are duller than adults and their bright coloration develops as they age. The tail is shorter than that of adults and the eyes and beak are more of a brownish color. There are yellow marks near the tip of the beak. Adults and juveniles have gray legs and feet.

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Caring for the Swainson’s Blue Mountain Lorikeet

Grooming

These birds will usually bathe themselves if provided with a shallow dish of clean water, but they can also be misted a few times per week to help keep them clean. Nail trims may need to be done regularly, and wing trims should be done on a regular basis if you intend to keep them trimmed. Only a properly trained person should perform nail and wing trims.

Swainson’s Blue Mountain Lorikeet grooming_Smeerjewegproducties_Shutterstock
Image By: Smeerjewegproducties, Shutterstock

Cage Mates

The only appropriate cage mate for one of these birds is a bonded partner. If they are introduced as juveniles and form a bond, then they can be kept together. Otherwise, there is a high risk of injury to one or both birds.

Cage Setup

If possible, these birds should be provided with a flight cage, but at minimum they need a cage that measures 24 inches by 24 inches by 30 inches. They should be provided with a variety of perches of different sizes and textures, as well as plenty of toys. Everything in the cage should be extremely secure since these birds can unscrew and open various types of clamps.

Cage Maintenance

They have very runny stools, so maintaining cleanliness in and around the cage is necessary. These intelligent birds can be trained to potty in one area, which can help keep things clean. Newspaper or paper bedding should be changed out when soiled, and the water bowl should be kept clean and free of algae or waste. The entire cage should be cleaned and disinfected on a regular basis, but do not use cleaning chemicals with your bird in the cage.

Activity

Since they’re such playful birds, plenty of interesting toys should be provided. Foraging toys will help exercise your bird’s mind, and they are big fans of noisy toys, like bells and chimes. They will enjoy ladders and activity centers as well.

Swainson’s Blue Mountain Lorikeet looking at each other_Smeerjewegproducties_Shutterstock
Image By: Smeerjewegproducties, Shutterstock

Common Health Problems

Overall, the Swainson’s Blue Mountain Lorikeet is a healthy bird. They are susceptible to chlamydiosis and Psittacine beak and feather disease, both of which should be addressed by a veterinarian.

Indications that your bird is ill include appetite loss, change in color or consistency of stools, overgrooming and plucking, wheezing, eye discharge or swelling, nose discharge, beak swelling, favoring one of its feet, and lethargy or sitting on the bottom of the cage.

Keeping your bird in an area free of drafts and providing a proper diet can help prevent disease. It’s also important to maintain the environment well, preventing the growth of bacteria and an environment that is welcoming to parasites and insects.

Diet and Nutrition

These birds are primarily nectar eaters, so a commercial nectar mixture should be provided and refreshed throughout the day. Check any home nectar recipes with your veterinarian before feeding to your bird. They should also be provided with a variety of fruits and veggies, including melons, papaya, figs, apples, and sweet corn. They also enjoy honey and pollen.

In the wild, they eat flowers, and these are a great addition to their diet. There are some dried flowers commercially available, and you can offer flowers from your own garden if they are free of pesticides and other dangerous chemicals. They can eat flowers such as hibiscus, dandelions, marigolds, roses, and pansies. Millet, oats, sprouted sunflower seeds, and multigrain flakes are also good dietary additions.

Swainson’s Blue Mountain Lorikeet drinking_Fotografiecor.nl_Shutterstock
Image Credit: Fotografiercor.nl, Shutterstock

Exercise

These birds require a high level of exercise every day. This can be achieved through an interesting rotation of toys that are routinely swapped out, flight time, and playing with the owner. Providing new and interesting toys, as well as rotating toys out regularly, can help prevent boredom by keeping things novel and fresh for your bird. Provide a safe space for your bird to fly or climb to help burn energy as well.

Where to Adopt or Buy a Swainson’s Blue Mountain Lorikeet

If you are in the United States, it will be difficult for you to find a Swainson’s Blue Mountain Lorikeet, and you are far more likely to come across Green Nape Lorikeets and some other more common types. There are export restrictions on the Swainson’s Blue Mountain Lorikeets due to their endangered status in their natural environment, so they are not common in the pet trade.

Since these birds are relatively easy to breed under human care, you may be able to find one for sale but you’re not likely to find one in a bird rescue or up for adoption. If you purchase from a breeder, you should expect to spend around $1,000–$1,500 on a single bird.

divider-birds Conclusion

The Swainson’s Blue Mountain Lorikeet is a fantastic bird that is intelligent and tends to bond closely with its owner. They can be noisy, which makes them a poor choice for apartments and condos, and they can be messy and may be territorial, so they may not be a great option for homes with children, especially small children. All in all, they are beautiful birds that can bring entertainment and joy to your life if you are fully prepared for their needs.

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Featured Image Credit: Jolanda Aalbers, Shutterstock

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