By Jennifer Nixon, Denver Zoo Bird Keeper
This adorable little cutie is this week’s feathered friend, Shainbow Glory the Rainbow Lory. She is actually an Australian Rainbow Lorikeet (Trichoglossus haematodus) but that didn’t flow with the name as well. She was hatched here at Denver Zoo in 2013 and just turned 1 year old last month. Her parents, Julio and Cleo, live with the rest of the flock at Lorikeet Adventure but they lived at Bird World, presented by Frontier Airlines when they were incubating her egg. After they raised their chick in the smaller, quieter enclosure the whole family was moved down to Lorikeet Adventure to allow the chick to build flight muscles and practice flying in a larger space.
What is the difference between lories and lorikeets? Even though they are both colorful parrots, there are differences:
- Lories are generally bigger than lorikeets.
- Lory tails are short, rounded or square. Lorikeet tails are longer and pointed.
- Most lories are red with patches of yellow, purple and green. Most lorikeets are green with patches of red and yellow.
An interesting fact about lories and lorikeets is that flying birds call continuously. They emit both a shrill screech and high pitched whistle.
Lories and lorikeets have very specialized tongues for feeding on nectar. Tiny hair-like structures called 'papillae' line the end of the tongue in the shape of a "U." When a lorikeet extends its tongue during feeding, the papillae stand on end, like bristles on a brush, allowing nectar and pollen to be easily soaked up. Unique to lorikeets, this trait has earned them the nickname "brush-tongued parrots."
Since she is a parrot, she loves to chew and rip things apart. That is why we give the lories lots of toys when they come into their nighttime housing. After spending the day in the exhibit, eating nectar, interacting with guests and their bird friends in the trees they get to come inside to play with a whole new set of toys. Parrots need a lot of enrichment and variety. Having outside and inside changes is physically and mentally stimulating for them. Some of her favorite toys to play with are metal toys that make a lot of noise like wind chimes. Her favorite fruits is pears and cantaloupe. You can tell her apart from the other 44 lories by her leg bands. She is the only one who wears purple and green. She also has a best friend to play with named Leonard, he wears red and yellow as is currently missing his tail feathers. She is especially friendly and will often climb on guest that offer her nectar.
You can visit Shainbow Glory at her home in the Lorikeet Adventure. Now open 7 days a week 10 am to 4pm, weather dependent (nectar sales until 3:30 pm).