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Blue Lorikeet or Nunbird

on 9th September 2007

Blue Lorikeet (Vini peruviana) is a cute bird usually seen singly or in pairs, sometimes even in small groups (left). Extremely noisy, their high pitched, hissing screech, scheee-scheee scheee-scheee announce their presence even before they are seen. They are also excessively active, climbing the branches in search of flower nectar or flying around, even hovering as if suspended in the air.

The bird has another name that fits it well, Nunbird, as the blue-white plumage of the adult makes it appear like a nun’s habit.

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Ong Tun Pin recently visited Tahiti and had an exciting encounter with the Nunbird:

“This is the bird that brought us lots of fun. Simply searching for them with my wife among coconut palms (luckily not too tall) is itself a unique experience. There were probably two pairs of the globally threatened lorikeet feeding on coconut nectar on a small islet about half the size of a football field.

“Not too hard to locate them by listening to their sharp chi-chi-chi call, but hard to take photos as they flew from one coconut palm to another.

“This lorikeet looks black and white in the field. Don’t you think it looks like a nun?

“I had to run around on this small touristy island to chase after the lorikeets. Luckily, other tourists had just left and we had the whole islet to ourselves.

“Listening to these cute lorikeets and on an idyllic coconut grove islet beside a turquoise blue lagoon is the best a bird watcher can ask for.”

The bird is confined to Cook Islands, Society Islands and the westernmost of the Tuamotu Islands. Although also named as Tahitian Lory, it appears to be extinct from Tahiti, although there has been a report of an attempt to reintroduce it in the 1940s. The bird is designated internationally VULNERABLE, the threat coming from rat (Rattus rasttus) and feral cats on the islands these bird are found in. The nest is a hole in a tree or a rotting coconut that is still attached to the palm.

Ong Tun Pin
September 2007

References:
1. Forshaw, J. M. (1973). Parrots of the world. N.J.: T.F.H. Publications, Inc.
2. Forshaw, J. M. (2006). Parrots of the world: An identification guide. Princeton & Oxford: Princeton University Press.

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

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