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Adaptations of the Lorikeet

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The word "lorikeet" describes a group of wee birds that are part of the subfamily Loriinae. Lories are also members of the subfamily. These parrots are arboreal, which means that they live up in trees. Lorikeets in the wild reside in New Zealand, Australia and on some islands of the South Pacific -- think New Guinea. They're equipped with a couple of adaptations that help them eat their preferred foods.

Lorikeet Basics

Although lorikeets are members of the same family as lories, they're usually markedly smaller than the latter birds. Australians generally refer to both types of the parrots as "lories," however. Common living environments for lorikeets are rain forests, parks, scrublands, marshes, gardens, agricultural sites and coastal locales. They are pretty diverse when it comes to habitat. Lorikeets mostly reside in lowland environments, although it isn't unheard of for them to live in highlands, either. Lorikeets typically achieve lengths of 10 inches to 1 foot. They usually weigh roughly 5 ounces. Males are typically bigger than females, although just by a tad.

Tongue Shape

Lorikeets' tongues have a shape that is convenient for their feeding purposes. They have notably narrow and elongated tongues that enable them to skillfully and adeptly prod around flowers, one of their big dietary staples. Apart from nectar and pollen, lorikeets also feed on lots of fruit, berries and grains. They aren't strictly herbivorous, either, as they occasionally dine on bugs and bug larvae, too.

Specialized Tongues

As far as lorikeet adaptations go, their specialized tongues are one of their biggest claims to fame. Their tongues feature miniscule papillae that make eating a significantly easier task. The wee, coarse bristles assist them greatly in the retrieval of both pollen and nectar. They employ their bills to squash blossoms, and then proceed to soak all the good stuff up using their trusty tongues.

Flexible Feeding Style

Lorikeets are impressively flexible when it comes to looking for food. Their bills are capable of functioning as extra feet. They can seize branches and the like using their bills. They also possess toes that are zygodactylous, which means that they're situated in separate sets of two. Lorikeets' toes help them control and handle the things in their surroundings. They assist them in gaining access to more elusive parts of trees, whether through dangling, tilting their bodies or anything else that requires major limberness and flexibility.