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Rainbow lorikeets are long-tailed, brightly-coloured parrots that are about 30cm long. They have a bright-red beak and eyes, a blue head and belly, green wings, tail and back and an orange/yellow breast. They make distinctive screeching and chattering calls and are almost always seen in pairs or in flocks. They look very similar to the more common eastern rosella, however rosellas have a red head (the lorikeets' is blue).
The species was introduced to New Zealand from Australia as cage birds and were illegally and deliberately released in the Auckland area in the 1990s. In New Zealand, rainbow lorikeets are mostly likely to occur in suburban parks and gardens, horticultural blocks, and forest edges.
Rainbow lorikeets are prolific breeders and also cavity (hole) nesters, competing with native birds for food and nesting sites. Native honey eaters, like the tūī, bellbird, and hihi (stitchbird), are at risk of competition from rainbow lorikeets as they utilise the same food sources. Native cavity nesters, such as kākā, kākāriki, and short-tailed and long-tailed bats, may be at risk from rainbow lorikeets competing for their nest and roost sites. Rainbow lorikeets can carry diseases that can threaten the health of native bird species.