Lorikeets – the skinheads of ther skies

HARRY Martin has courage.

He wants to see a feeding program set up for the lorikeets in Flinders Mall.

I have experience of lorikeets. Lorikeets are carnivorous. Not many people know that.

They are closely related to vultures, except vultures wait till you’re dead before they strip your bones of flesh.

It would be like filling the city’s ponds (if we have any) with piranhas.

Unless Harry has a primitive streak, of course, and when he says “feeding program” he means strapping the sacrifice down and retreating to a safe distance.

But I’ve met Harry. He’s a nice bloke and he’s well intentioned. I’ve also fed lorikeets. I’ve fed king parrots, too, and white cockatoos, taipans and polar bears.

The lorikeets were the worst. They travel in gangs. If they were people they’d be skinheads, but that doesn’t bear thinking about because lorikeets not only rip your hands to pieces when you feed them – they indiscriminately drop turds on your head.

Down south on the Gold Coast they have a wildlife sanctuary where they do exactly what Harry is suggesting. They provide people with raincoats and plates of bread and honey and then they stand back and watch the carnage.

It’s like the Christians and the lions at the Colosseum, except in this case the lions outnumber the Christians about 200 to one.

Give me a king parrot every time. They might be bigger, but they are gentlemen. They alight on your hand, establish by a gentle and sensitive nuzzling which bits are seeds and which bits are flesh, and they eat the right bits.

Lorikeets sort this out with a ripping motion. If it bleeds, it’s flesh and they’re happy.

It must be a thing about Australian birds, this aggressive nature.

If they ever do decide to take over the world, as in Alfred Hitchcock’s old movie, The Birds, the human race is done for. It won’t have a chance.

Never mind the species, like eagles and owls, that are designed for the single purpose of hunting down anything with a pulse: there are the cassowaries, that can take your head off with a backward kick, there are magpies that can nail you to the front door by the beak, and then there are lorikeets.

Let me not be hysterical here. Not all lorikeets are flesh eaters.

But there’s another thing about lorikeets that not many people know – they are the only creatures in the world who excrete more than they consume.

If you armed yourself with a cricket bat it wouldn’t do you any good. There’s too many of them.

Before you made it from the front door to the garden gate you’d grind to a halt under a mountain of lorikeet poo.
And then there’s the noise. Why do they do that? I think they’re laughing up there in the trees. Laughing and pointing and shrieking "Look, there’s a small one let’s get her tomorrow."

This doesn’t happen elsewhere in the world. Where I grew up the birds are modestly clothed. The brightest colour you can expect in most English birds is light brown.

They twitter and, with the exception of pigeons, they poo neatly. In private places.

And if you feed them they’re grateful. They hop about on your hand and look cute.

No, if we have any choice in the matter I think we should go with the piranha option. At least they can’t wait outside , or follow you home.

And by the time they can shit on your head – skull – you’ll no longer care.