The Misunderstood Lory

By Linda Greeson

Of the hundreds of baby birds, of dozens of different species, that we have raised, I have chosen one of our Red

Lory babies as my all time favorite pet. Roja, named for his beautiful deep red plumage, is a never ending source of amusement for all. His home is a large, black wrought iron cage in the kitchen-family room where I spend most of my time when not out in the aviaries.

He stays busy most of the day playing with his toys, thinking of new and ingenious ways to do acrobatic tricks. He often perches on his swing, legs spread wide apart, pumping vigorously until he manages to make the swing bump into the sides of the cage. He laughs and chatters all the while, just enjoying himself no end. His favorite of all the fancy toys I have bought for him is a round, white, plastic sink strainer. He delights in lying on his back, balancing the strainer on his feet, throwing it up in the air. He often holds it in one foot and hops across the floor of the cage dragging the strainer back and forth. He likes to stand on his head in his food bowl, and hang by his toes, or even by his neck, from his plastic rings.

His vocabulary keeps increasing in spite of the fact that I seldom find time for "lessons." He whistles and calls the dog, scolds the cat for jumping up on the counter, and begs for kisses. When I had a cold he learned to sneeze and cough very well, and still does. Unlike our pet African Gray and Yellow nape who become as silent as the Sphinx when a stranger enters the room, Roja enjoys performing and will go happily to anyone, offering kisses to one and all.

The Lories are an ideal size for a house pet, smaller than the Macaws and most Amazons, and yet large enough to make an impressive display of their gorgeous plumage. They rarely if ever develop the habits of screaming morning and evening common to many of the larger species.

In our aviaries, in addition to the Red Lories, we have breeding pairs of Rainbow Lories and Chattering Lories. They are strikingly beautiful, with plumage of almost unbelievable colors. Even in the breeding situation, they are the acrobatic clowns of the aviary. Even the other birds seem to enjoy watching the show they put on.

Unfortunately Lories are not very popular as house pets.

They are rated by most people as "dirty birds." Their habit of forcibly ejecting liquid droppings that rapidly become foul in odor is sufficient reason. In addition the preparation of the nectar diet generally felt to be necessary to their good health is a time consuming job. Nectar powders now available are simpler to prepare but quite expensive.

The Lories have a major physical difference from other pstittacines. Their gizzards where food is normally digested are weak with very little musculature. They are not able to digest a diet of seeds. In the wild they crush flowers with their beaks and then suck up the juice produced. During this process the pollen released from the flower is packed neatly into wads by their rough tongues and easily consumed.

About six years ago I started experimenting with feeding the Lories the extruded pelleted diet fed my other birds and was amazed at how easily the transition went. The adults relished the new food and the babies were weaned on the same foods as our other birds. The only difference was that Lory babies were much quicker than most to learn to eat on their own.

We are now on our fourth generation of Lories who all eat only extruded pelleted parrot food. They receive an occasional treat of fruit or greens along with the other birds, but no nectar or vitamin supplements. They are prolific, regularly producing very satisfactory clutches of healthy babies.

Several of our Lories have not only made the top bench at bird shows, but have been singled out as examples of perfect plumage. They are all great bathers and keep themselves in perfect condition.

It is understandable that they are no longer "launching" liquid stools. Even healthy humans on a diet of nectar and fruits would soon be looking for the Pepto Bismal! Their droppings are those of any normal parrot. Only the usual cleaning routines are necessary for their maintenance. The walls and carpeting near Roja's cage are not stained.

My experience has only been with the Red, the Chattering, and the Rainbow Lories. More delicate species and more conservative feeders may not respond in the same manner. As with any bird, when any drastic change in diet is planned, great patience and close observation are required for a considerable period of time. Changes must be made gradually and the effects on the bird's health closely monitored.

With no special nectar diets to prepare and no "dirty birds" to contend with, I am delighted with my Lories.



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Last Updated:  April 26, 2013

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