Author Jenny Gahan on her love for the rainbow lorikeet, which inspired her debut picture bookJune 26th, 2021
By Jenny Gahan'A Rainbow of Feathers' tells the story of Lola, a baby Rainbow Lorikeet, who wants to find her colours. All of her bush friends have beautiful, bright feathers, but hers are dull and grey.
On the surface, the story is simple and designed to entertain children. However, at a deeper level it is also a story about individual uniqueness. Each of Lola Lorikeet’s friends - Scarlet Honeyeater, Yellow Robin, Blue Fairy Wren and Green Fig Parrot - is uniquely coloured; and as she grows Lola finds her unique colours too.
Rainbow Lorikeets are a species of parrot found along the northern and eastern coast of Australia. You might spot them in rainforests, woodlands, coastal bushland, and even in the suburbs where there are plenty of shrubs and trees. They especially like flowering native shrubs such as banksias, grevilleas and bottlebrushes.
Rainbow Lorikeets feed mainly on pollen and nectar from native flowers, but also eat fruits, berries and small insects. Their tongues are like bristle brushes, perfect for extracting sticky nectar and pollen from flowers. The sweet nectar gives them energy, and pollen provides protein for healthy feathers. They are messy eaters and often their heads are coated in nectar and pollen.
Rainbow Lorikeets travel in large, fast moving flocks and shriek noisily during flight. At dusk they often settle in tall eucalypts. Their bright colours make them very conspicuous.
These birds are sometimes called the “clowns of the bird world” due to their vivid colours and playful behaviour. In flight they like to dip and weave like acrobats, and you will sometimes see them hanging upside down.
Rainbow Lorikeets are so comfortable around people that they can be hand fed. In Queensland, where I live, hundreds of Lorikeets are hand fed each day by visitors to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in Brisbane, and the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary at the Gold Coast.
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