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A Historical Look At Lories?

Red lories today are just as vocal as when they were first discovered.

By Dick Shroeder

BirdChannel.comIn describing red lories in his 1896 monograph on lories, George Mivart had this to say: “This brilliant Lory, which has been known since 1751, is, we learn from Mr. Greene, tamable and docile when captured young. It will learn to speak a little and to imitate a variety of domestic sounds. But it has the terrible habit of almost incessantly screaming: this habit it has in a state of nature, Muller having described how he watched it climbing among the trees, eating the luscious fruit and screaming incessantly; in captivity, however, it does not scream so much when kept in pairs as when kept singly. These birds are very affectionate and caressing to each other.”

Mivart later mentions: “The Rev. Mr. Dutton had a single specimen, which was some years old when he received it: he tells us it was fearless and would give one a pretty good nip at times; he parted with it because he found it too noisy. He never heard this individual, however, speak one word.” So it seems that red lories acted the same way as pets 100 years ago as they do today. Of course, we have the advantage of having captive raised, hand fed birds as companions these days, rather than something taken from the jungle, caged, and then shipped to London by ship. No wonder he gave “a good nip” at times.

Red lories are usually good breeders, often producing several clutches of two eggs a year. Some females become feather pluckers for reasons unknown. It is not as common for pet lories to pick as it is for breeders. These birds will often habitually pluck their chicks as well. If this occurs it is best to remove the chicks for hand-feeding. I’ve found that keeping clean shavings in the nest box almost entirely eliminates this problem. I think they pull the feathers from the chicks to line a dirty nest. Incubation is around 25 days and chicks left with the parents will generally remain in the nest for about 10 weeks. Hand-fed birds will wean much sooner, 45 to 50 days.

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