Guided by the light: Roost choice and behaviour of urban Rainbow Lorikeets (Trichoglossus haematodus)

Main Article Content

Savannah Daoud-Opit
Darryl N. Jones


1. The formation of large communal roosts is a conspicuous phenomenon associated with a wide range of bird species successfully exploiting urban environments. In many Australian cities, the abundance of the Rainbow Lorikeet (Trichoglossus haematodus), a native parrot, has increased markedly in recent decades, with the species roosting in very large numbers within suburban sites. These roosting locations are noisy and cause significant fouling of the land beneath, resulting in conflict with humans.
2. We investigated the selection of roosting sites in this species in Brisbane, Australia, by comparing characteristics of both the general sites of these roosts as well as individual trees used within roosting sites and trees that were avoided.
3. Lorikeets used a wide variety of tree types for roosting but demonstrated a clear preference for clumped trees within sparsely treed areas that received significantly more artificial light at night than otherwise suitable sites  and trees nearby.
4. These features of roosting sites may enhance the detection of nocturnal predators by Rainbow Lorikeets, suggesting a potential positive impact of anthropogenic lighting. Our findings provide valuable insights into the management of roost-related conflicts in urban areas. We encourage further investigations into the possible benefits of artificial light.

Article Details

How to Cite
Daoud-Opit, S., & Jones, D. N. (2016). Guided by the light: Roost choice and behaviour of urban Rainbow Lorikeets (Trichoglossus haematodus). European Journal of Ecology, 2(1), 72-80.


Australian Bureau of Statistics (2016) Population of Brisbane 2016.
Retrieved September 1, 2016, http://australiapopulation2016.
Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology (2011) Brisbane district.
Retrieved April 18, 2011,
Beauchamp, G. (1999) The evolution of communal roosting in birds:
origin and secondary losses. Behavioural Ecology, 10, 675–687.
Birkhead, T. (2011) Bird Sense. London: Bloomsbury.
Blair, R. (2001) Birds and butterflies along an urban gradient: surrogate
taxa for assessing biodiversity. Ecological Application, 9,
Box, F. (2001) Possums, parrots and pests: the dynamics of hollow places.
Wildlife Australia Magazine, 39, 36–39.
Brisbane City Council (2012) Brisbane’s Trees, Retrieved April 18, 2011,
Calf, K., Adams, N. & Slotow, R. (2002) Dominance and huddling behaviour
in bronze manikin Lonchura cucullate flocks. Ibis, 144,
Catterall, C.P., Cousin, J.A., Piper, S. & Johnson, G. (2010) Long-term
dynamics of bird diversity in forest and suburb: decay, turnover
or homogenisation? Diversity and Distributions, 16, 559–570.
Chace, J. & Walsh, J. (2006) Urban effects on native avifauna: a review.
Landscape and Urban Planning, 74, 46–69.
Clergeau, P. & Quenot, F. (2007) Roost selection flexibility of European
starlings aids invasion of urban landscapes. Landscape and Urban
Planning, 80, 56–62.
Coder, K.D. (2000) Crown shape factors and volumes, The Tree Biomechanics
Series. University Of Georgia.
Daoud-Opit, S.R. (2011) Roost choice and behaviour by Rainbow Lorikeets,
Trichoglossus haematodus: assessing functional explanations.
B.Sc. Honours thesis, Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia.
Davies, A., Taylor, C. & Major, R. (2011) Do fire and rainfall drive spatial
and temporal population shifts in parrots? A case study using
urban parrot populations. Landscape and Urban Planning, 100,
Everding, S. & Jones, D. (2006) Communal roosting in a suburban population
of torresian crows (Corvus orru). Landscape and Urban
Planning, 74, 21–33.
Fitzsimons, J., Palmer, G., Antos, M. & White, J. (2003) Refugees and
residents: densities and habitat preferences of lorikeets in urban
Melbourne. Australian Field Ornithology, 20, 2–7.
Garden, J., McAlpine, C., Peterson, A., Jones, D. & Possingham, H.
(2006) Review of the ecology of Australian urban fauna: a focus
on spatially explicit processes. Austral Ecology, 31, 126–148.
Gauthreaux Jr., S.A. & Belser, C.G. (2006) Effects of artificial night lighting
on migrating birds. In: C. Rich & T. Longcore (Eds.). Ecological
consequences of Artificial Night Lighting (pp. 67–93). Washington,
DC: Island Press.
Higgins, P. (ed.) (1999) Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic
Birds. Volume 4. Melbourne: Oxford University Press.
Jaggard, A. (2015) Rules of the roost: characteristics of nocturnal communal
roosts of Rainbow Lorikeets (Trichoglossus haematodus,
Psittacidae) in an urban environment. Urban Ecosystems, 18,
Kark, S., Iwaniuk, A., Schalimtzek, A., & Banker, E. (2007) Living in the
city: can anyone become an ‘urban exploiter’? Journal of Biogeography,
34, 638–651.
Lill, A. (2009) Food resources and urban colonisation by lorikeets and
parrots. The Victorian Naturalist, 126, 70–72.
Longcore, T. & Rich C. (2004) Ecological light pollution. Frontiers of
Ecology and Environment, 2, 191–198.
Lowry, H. & Lill, A. (2007) Ecological factors facilitating city-dwelling in
red-rumped parrots. Wildlife Research, 34, 624–631.
Martin, J.M., French, K., Ross, G.A. & Major, R.E. (2011) Foraging distances
and habitat preferences of a recent urban coloniser:
the Australian white ibis. Landscape and Urban Planning, 102,
McCaffrey, R.E. & Mannan, R.W. (2012) How scale influences birds’
responses to habitat features in urban residential areas. Landscape
and Urban Planning, 105, 274–280.
McDonnell, M.J., Hahs, A.K. & Breuste, J.H. (eds) (2009) Ecology of
Cities and Towns: A Comparative Approach. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press.
McPherson, E.G. & Rowntree, R.A. (1988) Geometric solids for simulation
of tree crowns. Landscape and Urban Planning, 15, 79–83.
McKinney, M. (2006) Urbanization as a major cause of biotic homogenisation.
Biological Conservation, 127, 247–260.
Navara, K.J. & Nelson, R.J. (2007) The dark side of light at night: physiological,
epidemiological, and ecological consequences. Journal
of Pineal Research, 473, 1–10.
Perry, G., Buchanan, B.W., Fisher, R.N., Salmon, M. & Wise, S.E. (2008)
Effects of night lighting on amphibians and reptiles in urban environments.
Herpetological Conservation, 3, 239–56
Roberts, P., Ravetz, J. & George, C. (eds.) (2009) Environment and the
City. New York: Routledge.
Rollinson, D.J., O’ Leary, R. & Jones, D.N. (2003) The practice of wildlife
feeding in suburban Brisbane. Corella, 27, 52–59.
Serpell, J.A. (1982) Factors influencing flight and threat in the parrot
genus Trichoglossus. Animal Behaviour, 30, 1244–1251.
Sewell, S. & Catterall, C. (1998) Bushland modification and styles
or urban development: their effects on birds in south-east
Queensland. Wildlife Research, 25, 41–63.
Shukuroglou, P. & McCarthy, M. (2006) Modelling the occurrence of
Rainbow Lorikeet (Trichoglossus haematodus) in Melbourne.
Austral Ecology, 31, 240–253.
Smith, J. & Lill, A. (2008) Importance of Eucalypts in exploitation of urban
parks by rainbow and musk lorikeets. Emu, 108, 187–195.
Temby, I.D. (2007) Pest or guest – some perspectives of abundant wildlife
in Victoria. In: (D. Lunney, P. Eby, P. Hutchings & S. Burgin
(Eds.). Pest or Guest: the zoology of overabundance (pp. 150–
157). Sydney: Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales.
Veerman, P.A. (1991) The changing status of the Rainbow Lorikeet
Trichoglossus haematodus in south-east Australia: the role of
wild and escaped birds. Australian Bird Watcher, 14, 3–9.
Woodall, P. (1995) Results of the QOS garden bird survey, 1979-80, with
particular reference to south-east Queensland. The Sunbird, 25,