Rainbow lorikeets feeding on wattle-galls

To: Robert Bender <>
Subject: Rainbow lorikeets feeding on wattle-galls
From: brian fleming <>
Date: Mon, 26 Feb 2007 21:24:24 +1100
This morning I took a leisurely stroll round Wilson Reserve, on the Yarra bank in Ivanhoe (Vic). Two Rainbow Lorikeets were very busy feeding in the lower branches of a Silver Wattle /Acacia dealbata. /I wondered what they were eating, so inspected them with binoculars at close quarters. They were nibbling their way into the galls which form on Silver Wattles - I believe some bug lays eggs on the flower buds, with the result that an irregular woody lump, an inch or more in diameter, forms on the branch. At this time of year the galls are green in colour. I presume the Lorikeets were after the larva or small grub inside - they seemed to be abandoning the galls after they had reached the centre, leaving a chewed remnant on the twig, which was otherwise intact. I have seen this behaviour several times before. I have not heard of them taking any kind of insect food before. (Of course insectivorous birds, particularly Shrike-Tits, attack these galls as a matter of course.

I have also sometimes seen Rainbows, and also Musk Lorikeets, chewing the twigs when the wattles were in flower in the spring. The branches were left quite ragged and frayed. In that case I assumed that they were obtaining the nectar from the glands along the branchlets between the leaves.

Anthea Fleming


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