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Popular Pet Lories

Learn more about the lorikeets that are popular as pets.

By Dick Schroeder

From the pages of Bird TalkThere are 53 species of lories. Many of these are kept in captivity, and an even smaller number are kept as pets. The following is a brief description of the bird, its native range in the wild and its general pet quality. I say “general” because there is always the odd bird that is nosier or quieter, speaks very well or doesn’t talk at all.

red lory
Courtesy Bonnie Dugan, Ohio
The red lory is sometimes called the Moluccan red lory from its native range.

DUSKY LORY
Pseudeos fuscata
Native range: through much of New Guinea.
Description: The only species in the genus Pseudeos. Has quite a variation in plumage. The most common form is the orange phase ,“the Halloween bird.”  The other being the yellow phase, where the orange is replaced by yellow. The body is black/brown with two bands of color, orange or yellow, at the throat and across the breast. The abdomen is also infused with this color as is the nape and the crown of the head. Bills are orange in both phases, and feet and legs are black. There is a prominent area of bare skin around the beak, and it is orange as well.
Weight: 155 grams.
Pet quality: This is one species people seem to either love or hate. Can make wonderful, talkative pets. But to my ears, and those of many others, they have the most ear-splitting, annoying screech. They can be extremely aggressive during breeding season, but as a pet, one can just expect the occasional nip, as lories tend to do. A quiet one might just be as good a lory for a pet as there is, but finding that screechless one might be hard to do.

GREEN-NAPED LORIKEET
Trichoglossus haematodus haematodus
Native range: Western New Guinea and on many of the islands of Indonesia. The subspecies also populate islands of Indonesia as well as Australia.
Description: Nominate race of the rainbow lory. There are approximately 22 subspecies – more than in any other species of parrot. T. h. haematodus is the most common rainbow – if not the most commonly kept pet lory. Most distinguishing characteristic is the breast, which is red with dark-blue margins to the feathers. The head is blue, and the abdomen is green.
Weight: 135 grams.
Pet quality: Even though this is probably the most numerous lory species kept as a pet, it is far from the best, although there will always be an exception. However, I have never known a green nape that did not become nippy within a couple of years. In some individual birds, this is seasonal and goes away when the breeding urge dissipates. In others, it is an on-going habit. They can be very sweet birds, but you just never know when that little bit of “devil” that lives within will decide it’s time to bite the hand that feeds. If you are willing to take such a gamble, you will find a pretty good talker, an extremely extroverted clown and maybe a pretty good friend. Noise level is on par with most of the lory species – nothing serious.

SWAINSON’S OR BLUE MOUNTAIN LORIKEET
T. h. moluccanus
Native range: Australia – but has been captive bred for so many years and in so many countries that it is common even outside its native range.
Description:  This, to me, is the most beautiful of the rainbow subspecies. It differs from the nominate species in that the breast is a solid orange-red without any barring, making it easy to distinguish from the green nape, which has a heavily barred breast. The head and abdomen are a deep purple-blue, and the head has lighter blue shaft streaks.
Weight: 140 grams.
Pet quality: I have found it to be the easiest lory species to breed in my aviaries, and, to me, this is the best of the rainbows as a pet. They seldom become nippy, speak pretty well and are about as big a clown as there is in the lory world. Even my aviary birds are loaded with personality and, while threatening to do so, they seldom bite when they have eggs or chicks. Noise level is normal for a lory. It shouldn’t be a problem for anyone except a day sleeper.

RED LORY
Eos bornea
Native range: The red lory is sometimes called the Moluccan red lory, since its natural range is the Moluccan Islands of Indonesia. There is a subspecies (E. b. cyanonothus) from the island of Buru, commonly called the Buru red lory. These are smaller than the 170-gram nominate species and are a much darker red, almost maroon.
Description: This is basically a red bird, a bright red bird. There is some blue on the sides of the face as well as a few blue and black feathers in the wings. Beaks are orange.
Pet quality: This lory may be just as common as the green nape as a pet, perhaps even more so. The Buru subspecies is not very common, however. They make wonderful pets, but they come with an attitude. They want to be the only bird around, and they want to be the center of attention. They can be affectionate to more than one person, but most pick their favorites. They are fearless and will attack dogs, cats and vacuum cleaners. Most are very good mimics, and they make an excellent choice for a pet. Noise level is like most of the others, not bad at all, but they have their moments.

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BLUE-STREAKED LORY
E. reticulata
Native range: The blue-streaked lory is found in the Tanimbar Islands of Indonesia. It was listed as threatened/endangered after heavy trapping for the pet trade in the 1970s and 80s. However, a survey conducted in 1993 showed that it still existed in large numbers on some of the islands.
Description:  Quite similar in appearance and size to the red lory. Basically all red. Besides their black wing primaries, the distinguishing factor is the electric-blue streaking on the mantle and hind neck. There is a darker shade of blue over the ear coverts.
Weight: 160 grams.
Pet Quality: Blue streaks are almost identical to red lories in pet quality. They are wonderful birds, being friendly and out going to most people. Talking ability is quite good, and they are not particularly noisy. They make a good choice for a companion bird.

BLACK-CAPPED LORY
Lorius lory
Native range: Native to New Guinea and surrounding islands.
Description: This is another species with a number of confusing subspecies, but the differences are only in the coloration – personalities remain the same. This is one of the larger lories in the nominate race. Some of the subspecies may be a bit smaller.
As the name implies, the head is black, as is the nape. The rest of the head is red, as is the upper breast. The range of the blue on the abdomen differs from subspecies to subspecies but, for the most part, they appear to be wearing blue coveralls. The wings are green.

Weight: 240 grams.
Pet quality: Among the best lories for pets. Most remain gentle, if a lory is ever really gentle, and they are good talkers, perhaps among the best in lories. Their general noise level is no greater than the smaller species listed. This is a highly recommended species as a pet.

GOLDIE’S LORIKEET
Trichoglossus goldiei or Psitteuteles goldiei: (In 1891, the Goldie’s was classified in the genus Glossopsitta and moved to Psitteuteles by Peters in 1937. Rosemary Low, in her book, Encyclopedia of Lories, leaves it in Trichoglossus, stating, “as yet there is not sufficient evidence to place it elsewhere.”
Native range: From the mountains of New Guinea.
Description: This beautiful little bird is one of the smaller lorikeets. It is also referred to as the “watermelon lory” because of its unique coloring. Its breast and abdomen are light green with numerous dark-green vertical streaks, similar to the skin of a watermelon. The head is beautiful – scarlet on the crown and forehead, with mauve around the eyes and pink cheeks. The back is dark green, and the beak is black.
Weight: 60 grams.
Pet quality: The little Goldie’s lorikeet is certainly proof that good things do indeed come in small packages. These are a little more sedate than the “average” lory, not nearly as hyper but still with great personalities. They are curious, and they look at and lick most anything. Their speaking ability is not the best but, on the other hand, they are quiet birds and would be suitable for apartment dwellers. This is also one of the lories that can be offered a bit of millet seed on occasion. They especially like the seed heads of grasses when they are in the “milk” stage.
Chalcopsitta
Except for coloration, the Chalcopsitta are basically the same bird, and all of them are found in New Guinea and the surrounding islands. These are among the largest of the lories with weights in the 230- to 250-gram ranges. All have large bodies and long tails.

BLACK LORY
C. atra
Description: All black, however, it glows with a purplish tint when viewed in the proper sunlight. The underside of the tail is red and yellow.

DUYVENBODE’S LORY
C. duivenbodei
Description: These birds have a unique color scheme for parrots. The basic coloration is a dark-coffee brown, but the face is encircled with bright yellow. The underwings and thighs are also a bright yellow, with a duller yellow on the nape and the sides of the neck. The undertail coverts are a violet blue.

YELLOW-STREAKED LORY
C. scintillata
Description: Truly one of the most beautiful parrots. Seldom does a photograph do them justice. Unlike other birds in this genus, they are basically green. They have green wings, and the body is various shades of green as well. The forehead is bright red while the remainder of the head is black. The thighs, lower legs, underwings and the bend of the wing are scarlet. The amazing thing is the yellow shaft streaking throughout most of the body, including head, breast, neck and mantle. There are also spots of red on the neck area. These areas of red or scarlet increase in size and intensity as the bird grows older.
Pet quality: As a whole, the Chalcopsitta group is my favorite as a pet. They don’t speak as well as many of the other lories, they have the capacity to be loud, but (thankfully) most seem not to be screechers. Their endearing qualities are their love of people, seeming to always wanting to be held or to climb on you. In fact, some are nearly impossible to return to their cages when playtime is over. Yet even in the process of “returning,” they never tend to bite. Of course there will be the exception, so take the “never” as usually never. If you are seeking a large lory, this is as big as they get. They need more than just powder and nectar in their diet, however. They should be offered all sorts of fruits and vegetables, and my breeder birds enjoy little wheels of corn on the cob.


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