Rainbow lorikeets on the loose in Katikati

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Rainbow lorikeet. Photo/Bay of Plenty Regional Council
Rainbow lorikeet. Photo/Bay of Plenty Regional Council

Bay of Plenty Regional Council is asking for help from the public to track down two rainbow lorikeets seen recently in pine trees near a Wainui South Road orchard in Katikati.

Anyone who sees a bird that has a multi-coloured body, blue head, red beak and green back and tail, should report it to Bay of Plenty Regional Council by calling 0800 STOP PESTS (0800 786 773).

Rainbow lorikeets often make chattering or continuous loud screeching sounds.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council Land Management Officer Donna Watchman said she was hoping to catch and eradicate the lorikeets before they could establish a breeding population in the Bay of Plenty.

"Rainbow lorikeets eat fruit and breed rapidly so they could cause serious crop damage and costs for orchard and vineyard owners.

"They're also a threat to native wildlife because they compete with birds like tui, bellbird, kaka and kakariki for food and nesting places, and could expose them to new diseases.

"We're keen to hear from anyone that's seen an unusual bird or lost their pet rainbow lorikeets in the western Bay of Plenty recently," Ms Watchman said.

The rainbow lorikeet is an unwanted organism under the Biosecurity Act 1993.

It is an Australian parrot species that has been controlled in Auckland after a wild population established there from illegal releases in the 1990s. Rainbow lorikeets can be kept as pets in secure cages but it is illegal to release them into the wild.

Rainbow lorikeets are easily mistaken for the more common eastern rosella (also a pest species) which has a red head and white beak, or the native yellow crowned parakeet which has a mainly green body but yellow and red markings above its grey beak.

A factsheet with further information and identification tips is available on Ministry for Primary Industries website.

The initial report to Bay of Plenty Regional Council came from a landowner who saw the two rainbow lorikeets sitting in pine trees beside his orchard last week.

"He reported it to us really quickly and took clear photos so we could identify them accurately. We're grateful for his vigilance but unfortunately the lorikeets had moved on before we could catch them," said Ms Watchman.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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