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Hormonal & Aggressive Lories & Lorikeets

Learn the signs of a hormonal and aggressive lory or lorikeet and when to expect aggression.

Dick Schroeder

Does your normally sweet lory or lorikeet suddenly dilate its pupils, fan its tail and lunge at you? Your lory or lorikeet might be excited, or it could be warning you to look out. Assume the latter! What would cause this sudden change? It can be the onset of the "terrible twos,” that period when your lory or lorikeet is filled with hormones and making the transition from a baby bird to a maturing bird. As you might already know, when the lory or lorikeet is going through this phase you certainly do not want to handle it, or if you do, be sure to have the band-aids ready!

rainbow lory
Hormones can turn your normally sweet lory or lorikeet into an aggressive bird.

Margrethe Warden, in her book "The Lory Owner’s Survival Guide,” mentions "Skippy” coming for a visit. Skippy is the evil twin of your sweet and lovable lory or lorikeet , that will suddenly appear in the form of nips and other signs of aggression. Skippy, the lory or lorikeet, normally hangs around for a couple of weeks, maybe a bit more, then suddenly be gone. However, do expect Skippy back from time to time as hormones change during breeding season.

Lory Or Lorikeet Breeding In The Wild
In our aviaries and homes, lories can and will breed at any time of year. In the wild, however, breeding season is normally immediately following the rainy season. Lories rely on flowering trees for the majority of their diet, and trees bloom after the rain. In non-breeding season, wild lories and lorikeets travel around as nomads and find the trees that are in flower or have fruit available. But when nesting, they have to stay close to home to tend the chicks. They travel as little as possible during this period.

This is also the time of year when the trees have an abundance of pollen available, as well as nectar. Pollen contains more protein than nectar, so it is very important in raising young lories and lorikeets.

In our aviaries and homes, we provide adult lories or lorikeets  the same nutrition all year long. Therefore, lories can breed at anytime, but most will breed in spring, following our winter rains (at least here in Southern California).

Aggression From Hormones In Lories & Lorikeets
In the wild, lories can become aggressive at breeding times, both to their mates — usually male lories showing aggression to female lories — and other birds as well, usually their own species. They will squabble or they might fight. If they squabble, they peck in the direction of each other, raising their voices to a high pitch, and one bird might chase the other throughout the tree, but they do not actually come to blows.

In fighting, the aggressive lory or lorikeet actually attacks the intruder, sometimes to the point where they lock feet and fall to the ground. Normally, this drives the intruder from the area.

Displaced Aggression
Occasionally lories (and other parrots) display displaced aggression. That can occur when you have the bird on your hand or arm and a stranger comes near. That stranger can be a person, another bird or a different pet. At that time, you are the territory for the lory and since it can’t reach the newcomer, it will bite you instead. This can take place fairly often. I hear all the time that "I bought my husband/wife a pet lory, but the lory doesn’t like him/her, but likes me instead and tries to bite him/her if I’m holding the bird.”

Another example of this behavior that was directed at a different species happened in a large, planted aviary that contained a number of species. There was a flock of Goldie’s lorikeets in there, as well as a pair of Stella’s lorikeets and plenty of nest boxes. This aviary also contained other miscellaneous birds, including a breeding pair of Bali mynahs. For whatever reason, the Stella’s lorikeets decided they wanted the nest box used by the Bali mynahs instead of the one they had been using. One or both of the Stella’s entered the Bali nest box and killed them both before they could get out. Skippy at his worst!

When this type of aggression is shown in our homes, it can lead to the death of one of the participants, since in a closed environment there is no place for the other bird to escape. If you have a lory (or any other bird) showing aggression toward each other, separate them immediately.

Other Forms Of Agression
A visit from Skippy does not necessarily have to coincide with breeding. When the annual molting time arrives, lories can become pretty grumpy. Molting makes a lory itchy and uncomfortable, but this too will pass, and Skippy will be gone again.

Another thing that can lead to bites is you "invading” your lory’s territory. Lories can be territorial, sometimes to the extreme, and their cage is their territory. When you reach in to change food or water, let alone pick up a favorite toy, you might be asking for a bite. Skippy is not to blame for this one: it is not just about hormones, it is about protecting property.

On the occasions that Skippy has returned, try to understand that it’s not any fault of yours or your lory. Blame it on the hormones. 

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Posted: May 29, 2012, 1:15 p.m. PDT

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Hormonal & Aggressive Lories & Lorikeets

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Reader Comments
Very good info
Dolly, Dolly land, TN
Posted: 5/17/2015 6:51:28 AM
Thinking about getting some Lories or Lorikeets and was wondering how much does the care entail. Also how much food do they each and the cost of it as I know they eat liquid food. Please help me out. Thanks
Courtney, St.George, KS
Posted: 10/25/2012 12:26:40 PM
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