It’s going to be a very special summer at The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk.
Beginning Saturday, May 25, guests at this popular Connecticut destination will be able to visit the summer exhibit, “Lorikeets,” where families can step into a lush aviary to share a laugh and a squawk with beautiful tropical birds that will sip food right out of their hands.
“Lorikeets” will be open from May 25 through September 2 outside on the Aquarium’s riverfront courtyard.
The exhibit will feature more than 50 free-flying lorikeets, which are colorful medium-sized parrots native to the south Pacific (southeast Asia, eastern Australia and Polynesia). The birds come in a dazzling rainbow of colors – with feathers that almost radiate an iridescent glow when seen in full sunlight. Lorikeets are naturally found in rainforests and woodlands but also in wooded urban areas, where they primarily feed on the nectars of various blossoms and fruits.
“In The Maritime Aquarium exhibit, our visitors will provide the nectar,” said Judith Bacal, the Aquarium’s exhibits director. “You can purchase a small cup of nectar before you go into the exhibit, and the lorikeets may land on your hand, or your arm, or even your head to get to your nectar. We like to say you can ‘Get Close’ at The Maritime Aquarium. Well, you can’t get closer than having a bird on your shoulder.”
Entry into “Lorikeets” will be free with Aquarium admission. Nectar cups will cost $3.
Jennifer Herring, president of The Maritime Aquarium, said “Lorikeets” will further enhance the Aquarium’s reputation for close and affordable family fun in Connecticut, as well as from nearby New York and New Jersey.
“The interactions that kids will have with the birds will be so memorable and inspiring,” she said. “By the end of summer, just try to imagine how many pictures and videos will be posted on Facebook, Pinterest and YouTube of our visitors hand-feeding these beautiful birds.”
Lorikeets are specially adapted to their sweet nectar diet through their specialized tongue. Tiny hair-like appendages called papillae form a U shape on the end of the tongue. When the tongue is extended, these papillae stand up like bristles on a brush, expanding the tongue’s surface area and allowing the birds to easily soak up nectar. Unique to lorikeets, these papillae have earned the birds the nickname “brush-tongued parrots.”
The 1,800-square-foot Maritime Aquarium exhibit will boast about a dozen varieties of lorikeets.
Some other important items to note about “Lorikeets”:
- It will be handicapped-accessible but strollers are prohibited.
- Visitors will be asked to sanitize their hands before entering.
- To encourage the birds to rest, the exhibit will close for a half-hour at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. daily.
- Viewing of the lorikeets will also be possible from outside the aviary.
Contributing writer: Dave Sigworth, The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk