Skip to main content

Turtle Bay's Charismatic and Colorful Lorikeets

02/27/2017 01:01PM ● Published by Kayla Anderson

Pretty Bird

March 2017
By Kayla Anderson
Photo by Sarah Marie Spectrum


A visitor walks into the Parrot Playhouse with a small cup of nectar and immediately eight lorikeets flock to him, perched all over the place trying to get to the nectar. 

“Lorikeets are the clowns of the parrot world; they make me laugh and they’re beautiful. They are so fun – I love to see the look on people’s faces when lorikeets land on them. They light up,” says Turtle Bay Exploration Park Head Curator and Animal Trainer Sharon Clay.  

An animal trainer for more than 28 years, Clay came to Turtle Bay in April 2007 when there was an opportunity to help revamp its animal program and add some educational value for guests.

“When I came on board, they just had a handful of animals. They sent out a survey and got an overwhelming response that people wanted to see more of them,” Clay says. Originally earning her undergraduate degree from The State University of New York at Buffalo with an emphasis in ethology, Clay found herself at Turtle Bay years later with the opportunity to build a new animal program from scratch. 

Before Clay arrived, Turtle Bay filled its aviary every summer with an exhibit of parakeets, which they contracted through an agency specializing in turnkey exhibits. However, Clay realized that hosting an aviary in-house would cost less money and could be open to guests year-round. Soon, the Parrot Playhouse was implemented in 2011. 

So why did she choose lorikeets as the featured bird?

“They are unique and show diversity in the bird world,” says Clay. “When you see a squirrel, what do you say? ‘Look, there’s a squirrel.’ We don’t say, ‘Look, there’s a mammal.’ For some reason, we specify mammals, but people don’t do that with birds. They don’t see the individualism.”

She also adds that lorikeets aren’t like a parrot – they have special bottlebrush tongues that lick up nectar and are pollinators. There are 55 species of lorikeets in the world, and Turtle Bay has eight of them.

Originating from the Australasian region, lorikeets (also called lories) were imported into the United States until a few years ago, when Australia banned exportation of native animals. Lorikeets, parakeets, parrots and other exotic birds are now either in captive breeding or smuggled in. 

“A lot of people don’t know that lorikeets are an island species; they live on all the little dotted islands around Indonesia and Australia. In isolated areas like that, the bird species are vulnerable and don’t handle change very well,” Clay says. In talking to guests about birds and their native habitats, it’s also an opportunity to point out the species that is only found in the North State – the yellow-billed magpie. 

“Birders from all over the world come to see (the yellow-billed magpie) and you can only find them here in the Sacramento Valley,” she says. 

Turtle Bay works with two certified lorikeet breeders from Florida and Texas, and with zoos that may not be able to house them anymore. Turtle Bay keeps around 30 lorikeets at any given time that live to be 15 years old or so. Clay emphasizes that Turtle Bay does not take in unwanted pets, and she often discourages people from buying parrots because of their wild nature, how much of a mess they make and the fact that they can live up to 100 years.  

“Most people have trouble with a dog or a cat, but you really have to know what you are getting into with a parrot and be willing to invest a great number of years into caring for it,” she says. However, if someone has done their research and still decides they want a parrot, Clay says to always go through a certified breeder or find a parrot rescue website. 

“Reputable breeders will send parrots out with a solid metal band, which shows they were captive-bred (rather than taken from the wild),” she says. “So if you are determined to have a bird, make sure it has a band around its ankle.” 

Visiting the animals at a place like Turtle Bay is probably one’s best bet, and Clay finds that birds usually like to cuddle more than other mammals (you can definitely see the smiles on their faces when they get head rubs). However, when asked who her favorite lorikeet is, Clay can’t name one. 

“I don’t play favorites, but I am partial to dusky lorikeets because they look like a chocolate candy corn,” she says. With their orange, brown and yellow striped bodies, Clay calls them the Halloween lorikeets. 

The mission of Turtle Bay is to inspire wonder, exploration and appreciation of all the world, and the animal program is celebrating its 10th anniversary. The Parrot Playhouse is available to guests every day from a half-hour after Turtle Bay opens until the time it closes, with a lunch break in between. •


www.turtlebay.org





Recreation, In Print, Community Lorikeets at Turtle Bay
  • Football Season Is Here!

    11/24/2017
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • Wildcard Brewery 5th Anniversary Party

    11/24/2017
    02:00PM — 09:00PM

    Wildcard Brewing Company is excited to announce the 5th Anniversary Party on Friday, November 24,...


  • Cascade Christmas

    11/24/2017
    02:00PM

    Produced & Directed by Jana Pulcini-Leard Redding’s holiday tradition returns with an all new ...


  • Wildcard Brewing Co. Foodie Friday

    11/24/2017
    05:00PM — 08:00PM

    On Fridays from 5pm-8pm, we bring you the best of both worlds: a frothy pint and a flavorful plat...


  • Cascade Christmas

    11/24/2017
    07:00PM

    Produced & Directed by Jana Pulcini-Leard Redding’s holiday tradition returns with an all new ...


  • The Redwoods Christmas Boutique

    11/25/2017
    09:00AM — 03:00PM

    Honestly, Santa's getting older and he can't keep doing that last minute stuff! Come on down to ...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    11/25/2017
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • Start Up Saturdays | Winter Market

    11/25/2017
    10:00AM — 03:00PM

    Easily shop local this Holiday season at the Start Up Saturdays Winter Vendor Market where local ...


  • REDDING RANCHERIA

    11/25/2017
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 25, 2017 IN THE WIN RIVER EVENT CENTER FROM 10:00 A.M. TO 4:00 P.M. FOR INF...


  • Cascade Christmas

    11/25/2017
    02:00PM

    Produced & Directed by Jana Pulcini-Leard Redding’s holiday tradition returns with an all new ...


  • Wildcard Brewing Company's Brewhouse Tour

    11/25/2017
    04:30PM — 05:00PM

    Want to know more about what goes on behind the scenes at Wildcard? Join us for a tour. This is y...


  • Cascade Christmas

    11/25/2017
    07:00PM

    Produced & Directed by Jana Pulcini-Leard Redding’s holiday tradition returns with an all new ...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    11/26/2017
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • Cascade Christmas

    11/26/2017
    02:00PM

    Produced & Directed by Jana Pulcini-Leard Redding’s holiday tradition returns with an all new ...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    11/27/2017
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • North State Giving Tuesday

    11/28/2017
    06:00AM — 08:00PM

    Each year at Thanksgiving and the week following, we have a day for giving thanks, two days for g...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    11/28/2017
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • Winter Concert

    11/28/2017
    07:00PM — 09:00PM

    The Enterprise High Music Department will be preforming several different song both from choir an...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    11/30/2017
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    11/24/2017
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • Wildcard Brewery 5th Anniversary Party

    11/24/2017
    02:00PM — 09:00PM

    Wildcard Brewing Company is excited to announce the 5th Anniversary Party on Friday, November 24,...


  • Cascade Christmas

    11/24/2017
    02:00PM

    Produced & Directed by Jana Pulcini-Leard Redding’s holiday tradition returns with an all new ...


  • Wildcard Brewing Co. Foodie Friday

    11/24/2017
    05:00PM — 08:00PM

    On Fridays from 5pm-8pm, we bring you the best of both worlds: a frothy pint and a flavorful plat...


  • Cascade Christmas

    11/24/2017
    07:00PM

    Produced & Directed by Jana Pulcini-Leard Redding’s holiday tradition returns with an all new ...


  • The Redwoods Christmas Boutique

    11/25/2017
    09:00AM — 03:00PM

    Honestly, Santa's getting older and he can't keep doing that last minute stuff! Come on down to ...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    11/25/2017
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • Start Up Saturdays | Winter Market

    11/25/2017
    10:00AM — 03:00PM

    Easily shop local this Holiday season at the Start Up Saturdays Winter Vendor Market where local ...


  • REDDING RANCHERIA

    11/25/2017
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 25, 2017 IN THE WIN RIVER EVENT CENTER FROM 10:00 A.M. TO 4:00 P.M. FOR INF...


  • Cascade Christmas

    11/25/2017
    02:00PM

    Produced & Directed by Jana Pulcini-Leard Redding’s holiday tradition returns with an all new ...


  • Wildcard Brewing Company's Brewhouse Tour

    11/25/2017
    04:30PM — 05:00PM

    Want to know more about what goes on behind the scenes at Wildcard? Join us for a tour. This is y...


  • Cascade Christmas

    11/25/2017
    07:00PM

    Produced & Directed by Jana Pulcini-Leard Redding’s holiday tradition returns with an all new ...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    11/26/2017
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • Cascade Christmas

    11/26/2017
    02:00PM

    Produced & Directed by Jana Pulcini-Leard Redding’s holiday tradition returns with an all new ...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    11/27/2017
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • North State Giving Tuesday

    11/28/2017
    06:00AM — 08:00PM

    Each year at Thanksgiving and the week following, we have a day for giving thanks, two days for g...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    11/28/2017
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • Winter Concert

    11/28/2017
    07:00PM — 09:00PM

    The Enterprise High Music Department will be preforming several different song both from choir an...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    11/29/2017
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • Wildcard Brewing Company's Midweek Madness

    11/29/2017
    02:00PM — 08:00PM

    Visit either Wildcard location on Wednesdays and get $3 off a growler fill! Come by the brewery a...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    11/30/2017
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    12/01/2017
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • Button, Zip & Snap Event

    12/01/2017
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    12/01/17 10 am – 6 pm 12/02/17 10 am – 5 pm 2961 Churn Creek Rd, Redding, CA 96002 530-221-3970...


  • Strikes for Strays

    12/01/2017
    04:00PM — 09:00PM

    JOIN US AT STRIKES for STRAYS!!! ... Let’s ALL be a reason for the season!!! STRIKES for STRA...


  • World AIDS day

    12/01/2017
    04:00PM — 06:30AM

    December 1st is World AIDS Day. Join us in the Downtown Promenade for free HIV testing, informati...


  • Wildcard Brewing Co. Foodie Friday

    12/01/2017
    05:00PM — 08:00PM

    On Fridays from 5pm-8pm, we bring you the best of both worlds: a frothy pint and a flavorful plat...


  • First Friday on Main

    12/01/2017
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Join us at Enjoy the Store Red Bluff, home to Cedar Crest Brewing and Vineyard, for live music, f...


  • Cascade Christmas

    12/01/2017
    07:00PM

    Produced & Directed by Jana Pulcini-Leard Redding’s holiday tradition returns with an all new ...


  • Whitmore Christmas Bazaar

    12/02/2017
    08:00AM — 03:00PM

    The Whitmore Volunteer Fire Company, Inc. invites you to the annual CHRISTMAS BAZAAR on December ...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    12/02/2017
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • Start Up Saturdays | Winter Market

    12/02/2017
    10:00AM — 03:00PM

    Easily shop local this Holiday season at the Start Up Saturdays Winter Vendor Market where local ...


  • On Saturday December 2nd from 10AM-1PM, The Friends of the Shasta County Libraries will sell gent...


  • Button, Zip & Snap Event

    12/02/2017
    10:00AM — 05:00PM

    12/01/17 10 am – 6 pm 12/02/17 10 am – 5 pm 2961 Churn Creek Rd, Redding, CA 96002 530-221-3970...


  • Whiskeytown National Recreation Area and Shasta State Historic Park Partner for the Annual “Old T...


  • Cascade Christmas

    12/02/2017
    02:00PM

    Produced & Directed by Jana Pulcini-Leard Redding’s holiday tradition returns with an all new ...


  • A Celebration of Music

    12/02/2017
    04:00PM — 06:00PM

    On Saturday, December 2nd Dunsmuir will be celebrating the beginning of the holiday season with a...


  • Wildcard Brewing Company's Brewhouse Tour

    12/02/2017
    04:30PM — 05:00PM

    Want to know more about what goes on behind the scenes at Wildcard? Join us for a tour. This is y...


  • Cascade Christmas

    12/02/2017
    07:00PM

    Produced & Directed by Jana Pulcini-Leard Redding’s holiday tradition returns with an all new ...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    12/03/2017
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • B--Monthly Free Concert & Open Mic

    12/03/2017
    01:00PM — 04:00PM

    Redding - California State Old Time Fiddles Association, District 6 Free Old Time Fiddle, Bluegra...


  • Cascade Christmas

    12/03/2017
    02:00PM

    Produced & Directed by Jana Pulcini-Leard Redding’s holiday tradition returns with an all new ...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    12/04/2017
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


Enter to Win!

Check out our sister publication, Enjoy Magazine: South Valley Living
Wedding Style Guide 2017
Enjoy Magazine Facebook
Enjoy Magazine Instagram Instagram
Enjoy Magazine Pinterest Enjoy Magazine

Enjoy Our Sponsors