And colours are the smiles of nature.
Birds are beautiful jewels in the sky. There are many brightly coloured birds in the world, and the most flamboyant ones are the parrots. During our birding sojourn in Australia, Ahalya and myself saw some of the most multihued parrots, prominent among them being the Rainbow Lorikeet.
Rainbow Lorikeet, definitely deserves its name! True to its name, one can see all the colour palettes of rainbow in its feathers. Its head is deep blue with a greenish-yellow nuchal collar, and the rest of the upper parts (wings, back, and tail) are green. The chest is orange/yellow in colour. The belly is deep blue, and the thighs and rump are green. Their species name, haematodus, comes from the Latin word for blood, and is a reference to the rich red found on its breast.
The colour of the feathers of birds serves various functions; thermoregulation, climatic adaptation and a fine balance between sexual signalling and camouflage. Birds need to balance being attractive to potential mates while having some kind of camouflage against potential predators. When hunted from above, the Rainbow Lorikeet blends with the foliage of the trees with its green back. It has been suggested that the colourful patches confer evolutionary advantage in courtship and mate recognition.
Rainbow lorikeets have two unique features. They possess a tongue with brush-type tissues helping them to collect nectar and pollen. The other distinctive feature is their agile legs which help them to hang upside-down and feed on bottlebrush flowers. It is a dazzling sight when flocks of them fly with the rays of the sun streaming through their gorgeous plumage!
On the occasion of Holi, in the words of Maya Angelou, let us “Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.”