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.
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
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.