Lorikeets and Macaws are both colorful and beautiful birds, but they have some differences too. Lorikeets are smaller than Macaws and have a slender body shape, while Macaws are larger and have a more robust build. Both birds have vibrant feathers in various colors, like red, blue, green, and yellow, but Macaws often have more intense and striking colors. Lorikeets have a specialized brush-like tongue that helps them eat nectar from flowers, while Macaws have a strong beak that they use to crack open nuts and seeds. Both birds are very intelligent and can mimic human speech, but Macaws are generally better at talking. They are social birds and love to be around other birds of their kind. So, while they share some similarities, like their colorful feathers and intelligence, they also have their unique characteristics that make them special in their own way.


Natural History

  • There are 53 species of lorikeets with 21 subspecies of rainbow lorikeets
  • Within the aviary, there are 2 different lorikeet species we have11 rainbow lorikeets, including 3 subspecies of rainbow lorikeets and 1 hybrid
  • Green-Naped Lorikeet (Trichoglossus haematodus)
  • Bright green back and wings, with orange-red and yellow underwings. They have a blue-violet head with a yellow collar on the back of the neck. Bellies are bright red with blue-violet stripe patterns.
  • Medium size parrot, usually around 10inches long.
  • Average weight is about 4.5-5oz.
  • This species is not considered to be in danger.
  • Natural predators of these birds include Peregrine and Brown Falcons, Whistling Kites, and diamond pythons
  • Swainson’s Lorikeet (Trichoglossus haematodus moluccanus)
  • Swainson’s are often referred to as the “prettiest” of the rainbow lorikeets. They have bright blue-violet heads with a yellow-green collar around the nape. Wings and backs are green, with a dark blue lower belly. Breast area ranges from red to orange to yellow in a “sunset” type pattern.
  • Medium size parrot, usually around 11 inches long.
  • Generally weigh 4.6 oz.
  • This species is not considered in danger, and, in fact, in some areas of Australia is considered a pest as they are destroying agricultural crops.


  •  Beak
    • Beaks are made of keratin (same as our fingernails!) and do actively grow. This portion of the beak does not sense pain, thus provides a good tool to the bird to aid in searching, digging, and cracking open fruits.
    • All of our birds trim their own beaks by rubbing them on branches, rocks, etc., but they can be very sharp!
    • The end of the beak closest to the bird’s body (called the cere and is where the nostrils are located) has significant blood supply and a number of nerve endings, making it very sensitive especially to touch.
    • Use their bills to rip apart fruits and flowers to gain access to the soft insides and pollen.
    • Can use beaks as a third foot to aid in climbing.
  • Voice
    • Very loud! They screech during flight and often “chatter” while feeding. This establishes communication between birds during these events.
    • Vocal Repertoire
    • Fledging- high pitched wheeze
    • Protest- made when disturbed at nesting sites or feeding on low shrubs; accompanied by wing flapping and sideways movements of the head.
    • Locating- saying “here I am!”
    • Warble- made by pairs talking to each other when feeding, resting, preening, etc.
    • Scouting- made in flight when searching for other birds or for food.
  • Brush Tongue
    • The ends of their tongues have tiny little hairs (papillae), which actively aid in soaking up nectar and pollen.
    • Brush tongues make them excellent pollinators. In the wild, as they fly from flower to flower, they spread pollen around and help provide opportunities for plant reproduction.
  • Wings
    • Have very fast, rapid wing beats
    • In the wild, they fly high when traveling low distances. On short flights, or inside the aviary, they tend to maneuver from branch to branch or between the trees.
    • They have the ability to establish flight paths before take off. In the wild, usually these paths tend to follow geographic features, such as coastlines or rivers.
    • Inside the aviary, this is seen often from one end of the aviary to another with a group of birds flying together.
    • Due to the body:wing ratio, lorikeets have difficulty landing and taking off from the ground. Often, they will take off from a taller height, giving them an advantage for long-range flying at high speed.
  • Skin/Feathers
    • Unlike many other types of birds, lorikeets do not contain oil glands in their skin.
    • They use a “powder down” technique when preening.
      • Some of the down feathers that grow contain tips that constantly break down and form a waxy powder. The birds then spread this through their plumage during preening. This helps coat the feathers, keep them clean, and keep them healthy.
    • They bathe daily by fluttering along wet foliage.
      • Inside the aviary, bird baths are provided.
  • Tail
    • Long, pointed tail aids in balance while perching, as well as agility during flight.
  • Zygodactyl Feet
    • The first and fourth toes face backward, and the second and third toes face forward (zygodactyl) which aids in the birds in perching, grasping, and climbing.
    • Because of the shape of the feet, lorikeets cannot take regular, even steps, but instead must hop and leap while maneuvering around the ground.


  • Lifespan and Reproduction
    • 15-25 years in the wild, 30-40 years in human care.
    • Create pair bonds which last throughout the pair’s lifetime
      • Pairs preen and nibble each other during resting periods.
      • Resting pairs display minor aggression towards non-pair birds by biting and protesting.
    • Become sexually mature between 12-24 months of age. Typically, a pair will mate for life.
    • Courtship behaviors include head bobbing, tail fanning, wing displays, and fencing with their beaks.
    • Incubation period for the eggs is about 26 days.
    • Both the male and female parents guard the next. Hatchlings stay in the next for 49-56 days, but will return every night for an additional few weeks until they are ready to be fully independent.
  • Diet and Digestion
    • Lorikeets have very fast working metabolisms and spend approximately 70% of their time feeding in order to support nutrient demands.
    • Lorikeets do not have a gizzard, thus they cannot digest anything solid- such as a nut or a seed.
      • They use their beaks to peel away any tough or solid casing around fruits.
      • Use bristle tongues to slurp nectar and pollen from trees and fruits.
        • Here, we feed them manmade nectar (papaya or mango juice mixed with water), they eat a soft fruit cocktail mixture, and are provided with water soluble lorikeet vitamin pellets. Any additional fruits (apples, mango, bananas, etc.) that are provided for the birds are pre-sliced to ensure that no solids are accidentally being swallowed.

Habitat & Lifestyle

  • Distribution
    • Lorikeets are indigenous to the Eastern Australia only. They have however been introduced to Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and New Caledonia.
      • In the 1990’s, Rainbow lorikeets were illegally released into the wild in New Zealand. By 1999, an established population of almost 200 Rainbow Lorikeets had been established and were competing with native birds (even much larger birds) and bats for food and nesting resources.   
        • Conservation programs have live-captured and relocated most of this introduced population. However, Rainbow Lorikeets are still sometimes seen in New Zealand.
      • They will remain within an area provided that there are enough food patches to sustain them. Otherwise, they have been known to be nomadic to find food. It is possible for them to make daily journeys as far as 30 miles outside their nest sites in search for food.
  • Relationship with Other Birds
    • Roost sizes are variable depending on the season, but in the wild some roosts get as big as 50,000 birds!
      • Some theories for why roost and flocking behaviors exist:
        • To teach inexperienced birds survival necessities, such as what food to eat, feeding techniques, and other survival behaviors.
        • Communication between birds about feeding sites
        • Serves as a venue for non-breeding individuals to find mates
        • Safety in numbers principle to secure individual survival
  • Predators
    • Raptor birds, including peregrine falcon, brown falcon, and whistling kite.
    • Diamond python.
    • Rats and other burrowing scavengers.
    • **Humans are not a direct predator, but pose a threat to the wild birds due to deforestation and trapping.
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Classification & General Information

  • Scientific classification
    • Kingdom: Animalia – animals
    • Phylum: Chordata – vertebrates
    • Class: Aves – birds
    • Order: Psittaciformes
    • Family: Psittaciformes
    • Genus: Ara
    • Species: Ara ararauna (Blue and Gold)
  • There are eighteen species of macaws which vary in size and color.
  • Different species live in the same geographical regions and share habitat – some even interbreed and form hybrids!
  • Macaws can live up to 80 years
  • These birds feed on fruits, berries, nuts, seeds, and green plants. They show a preference for fruit from palm species
  • Macaws are very messy eaters – their extremely strong beaks are perfectly adapted for eating all sorts of nuts and seeds, as seen in their ability to crack open incredibly hard-shelled nuts (such as Brazil nuts) with ease.
  • In the course of daily feeding, macaws allow plenty of seeds (while eating, as well as in their droppings) to fall to the forest floor, thus regenerating much of the forest growth.
  • In the wild, macaws do not mimic other birdcalls.  Mimicry is only noted in captive species.  They can learn to copy human speech, but are not considered good mimics.

Blue & Gold Macaw

  • AKA blue and yellow macaw
  • Size and Description
    • Blue and Gold Macaws have a total length of 85 to 90 centimeters, or 34 to 36 inches. They have a wingspan of 102 to 112.5 centimeters, 41 to 45 inches. Their weight ranges from 900 to 1200 grams. Females have slightly smaller measurements.
    • Blue and gold macaws’ upper body is blue, while the underside is golden yellow, and their forehead is green.
    • The long tail feathers are mainly blue and yellow.
    • The chin and cheek area is pinkish-white with thin lines of black feathers. These macaws have a hooked beak gray black in color.
    • Their dark gray feet have two toes pointing forward and two toes pointing backward, each with a black claw.
    • Coloration on juveniles is washed out. 
  • Habitat and range
    • This species of macaw is found in forests and swamps of tropical South America. Their range spans from eastern Panama through Ecuador, Columbia, Venezuela, and Brazil. They can possibly also be found in northern areas of Peru and Argentina.
    • Their habitat is controlled by food availability; distances between roosting and feeding sites have been measure to up to 25 kilometers.
    • Preferred habitats are forests and tall palms growing in swamps or along watercourses. They also include areas of lowland forests.
    • The preferred habitat is humid forests, where they inhabit seasonally flooded area, babacu palm swamps, and deciduous woodlands.
    • Macaws are great travelers and require extensive areas of forests for foraging and nesting.
  • Behavior
    • Blue and gold macaws are found in pairs and often mate for life. They remain in their pairing even when gathered in or flying with a large flock, and pairs are readily discernable as they fly close together, their wings almost touching.
    • The large families of macaws roost together and leave together in the morning to feed, returning before sunset. They often seek out mountains of clay, called “macaw licks.”
    • Their characteristic flight silhouette is largely due to their long tail streaming out behind as they fly. Their flight is direct with slow, shallow wing beats and is quite fast for such a large bird. These macaws can reach speeds of up to 35 miles per hour.
  • Reproduction
    • Blue and golds begin breeding at six to seven years old.
    • Breeding season begins during the months of February through April.
    • Pairs leave the flock and find a nesting spot, usually cavities in dead palm trees. Clutches contain two to three eggs averaging a size of 46 by 36 millimeters. Females incubate the eggs for 28 days, while the male guards his family. After a three-month nestling period, the young leave the nest; they will become completely independent after another three weeks.
  • Conservation Status
    • The number of Blue and gold macaws globally is unknown. CITES lists them in their Appendix II, meaning these macaws are not currently threatened with extinction but may become threatened unless exotic pet trade is controlled. The United States Wild Bird Act prohibits the commercial import of any bird listed by CITES.
    • The blue and gold macaw is not listed as being extinct or endangered in the wild under IUCN red list criteria. It is one of the only species of macaw that remains common in the wild. They are, however, subject to the threat of humans and the desire to hunt, trap and capture them for the pet and breeding trade as well as habitat destruction increasing across Central and South America.

Green Wing Macaw

  • AKA green-winged macaw, red and green macaw
  • Size and Description
    • The green wing macaw, known as the “Gentle Giant”, is second in size only to the hyacinth macaw.
    • A full sized green wing macaw averages lengths up to 90cm (35.5in) with wingspans averaging approximately 102-122.5cm (41-49in).
    • Weights average approximately 1250-1700g (43.8-59.5oz or 2.75-3.75lbs)
    • The breast of the green wing macaw is bright red, but the lower feathers of the wing are green. Iridescent teal feathers are surrounded by red on the tail.
    • This macaw has characteristic red lines around the eyes formed by rows of tiny feathers on the otherwise bare white skin patch; this is one of the biggest differences from a scarlet macaw to the casual viewer.
    • The beak is strongly hooked and can generate a pressure of 2000 psi (capable of snapping a broomstick in half); it is designed to crush or open even the hardest nuts and seeds.
  • Habitat and range
    • This is one of the most common of the large macaws in the wild, widespread in the forests of Northern South America.
    • It occurs in Central & South America, including Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Bolivia, and Paraguay in tropical forests, mangrove swamps, and savannas.  Also has been introduced into Puerto Rico.
  • Behavior
    • Green wing macaws are frequently seen in pairs or family groups and occasionally gather in small flocks of six to twelve birds. Larger groups are found in feeding trees or on clay banks, where they may group with other Macaws.
    • They are fairly shy birds and are difficult to see in foliage. Usually only heard within the forest, they will fly off making loud screeches when alarmed.
    • In the wild, macaws often flock to mountains of clay known as “macaw licks”.  Such licks contain minerals and salts essential to the bird’s diet.
  • Reproduction
    • Sexual maturity is reached at 3-4 years.
    • The Green-winged macaw generally mates for life.
    • In the wild, the breeding season for the green-winged macaw begins in November and December in the southern part of their range, and February and March in the north.
    • Nests are fashioned in hollow tree trunks or holes in damaged palms high above the ground. The female typically lays two or three eggs in the nest, incubates the eggs for about 28 days, and the chicks fledge from the nest about 90 days after hatching.
    • The first down feathers appear around 8 days after hatching. The chicks open their eyes at around 15 days and the first feather sheaths emerge at about 3 weeks.


  • Boa constrictors, hawks, opossums and rats prey on macaws and their eggs in the wild. However, the largest dangers to all macaws are illegal bird trade and habitat destruction.
  • Many macaw species are now endangered in the wild. They face habitat loss through deforestation, and capture from the wild for pet trade. Hunting, poaching, and the spraying of pesticides are just a few more reasons their numbers are decreasing.
  • Macaws do not make good pets. Due to busy lifestyles, many people cannot provide suitable homes for parrots.
  • Help macaws by buying wood that is sustainably harvested, coffee that is shade grown, and produce that is grown locally. These products do not require the destruction of rainforest land to grow crops.
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Learn from our Birds Experts

Parrot Presentation

Time: 12:00PM – 12:10PM
Date: 7 days a week
Location: MACAW TREE (beside aviary)
Details: Learn about these majestic birds, where they come from, what the like to eat, how we care for them and so much more.

Aviary Feeding

Time: 10:00AM – 12:00PM
Date: 7 days a week
Location: Varies throughout the seasons, see park map upon arrival.
Details: Discover rainbow lorikeets and a couple rescued local conures, local parakeets of the US Virgin Islands. The brown throated conure or “St. Thomas parakeet” helps our local forest ecosystems by dispersing seeds across the territory. These very sociable birds give our guests an opportunity to watch their amusing antics up close.

Birds Gallery

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