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All About Red Lories

Find out how to feed and take care of the popular red lory.

By Dick Schroeder

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Everyone seems to love a red bird, and there are few better choices than a red lory (Eos bornea). Besides being a beautiful color, red lories make beautiful pets. They are medium-sized birds, around 11-inches long and weighing in at 170 to 180 grams. There are several (doubtful) subspecies of red lories, but only two are seen in our homes: the Moluccan red lory and Buru red lory.

Red Lory
There are several subspecies of red lories, but the two most commonly seen in U.S. aviculture are the Moluccan red lory and Buru red lory.

The more common is the Moluccan red lory, which in the wild is found in the Moluccan Islands of Indonesia, primarily Ambon and Saparua. The other is the Buru red lory (E. b. cyanonothus) from the Indonesian Island of Buru. The Buru red lory is a bit smaller and more slender and a much darker shade of red, almost maroon. It also has more extensive blue on its wings and its black wing stripe is broader.

On the whole, the red lory is one of the most common parrots in its area of Indonesia; its numbers in the wild are thought to be well over one million. Both subspecies have bright orange beaks and gray legs and feet. The iris is red-orange. Immature birds have some blue on the head and face, but this molts out over time. Buru red lories are extremely uncommon these days.

Food For Red Lories
In the wild, red lories eat nectar, flowers and a few insects, especially those found in Eugenia and Erythrina trees. They will also eat the green seeds found in the fresh fruit. Red lories are noisy, conspicuous birds in their natural habitat and can be a bit noisy at times in our homes and aviaries as well, especially when they want attention. They are not nearly as loud as some other lory species, however.

Good food for lories and lorikeets is essential for them to remain healthy and to breed. I recommend a good commercial diet; however, personally I don’t believe that lories should have hard pellets. If a pellet is softened in juice or water, it is probably all right to use. There are a number of good homemade diets as well. These can be found on some of the lory websites.

A variety of fresh fruit and vegetables should also be offered. Pet red lories can have table foods, but since they can have a problem with iron-storage disease, as with many of the softbills, it’s a good idea to keep foods that are known to be high in iron away from them. A bit of chicken or fish is fine (no red meat), as is pasta, rice, potatoes, etc. I do offer my lories oranges from time to time, and most of them enjoy them, even making a toy out of the empty orange peel. Too much citrus is not a good thing though, as it aids in the uptake of iron, but my food, “Lory Life,” is very, very low in iron and I’ve never had a problem. I also offer “wheels” of corn on the cob, about 3/4-inches thick; they use the clean cob as a toy as well. In fact most anything is a toy to a lory.

Pet Red Lories
Red lories are still one the most numerous species of lories in United States’ aviculture, although certainly not as available as they were 10 years ago. There are certainly lots of green-naped lorikeets (Trichoglossus haematodus) around, as well as Swainson’s lorikeet (T. h.moluccanus) so it’s a tossup which are more abundant.

As pets, they are equal to the other lories. All three lory species have been known to “give a nip” for seemingly no reason, but lories seldom need a reason for their actions. Just being a lory is enough. Red lories have some very amusing actions: swaying their heads and bodies, dilating their eyes, puffing up and hissing; like miniature red dinosaurs.

Red lories require a fair-sized bird cage, as they are always on the go and need lots of room to play. The sides of the bird cage can be covered with removable Plexiglas panels to help contain their liquid droppings. These can be drilled and held in place with “s” hooks or hung with Velcro. Most glass shops can provide this, as can many home-building centers.

Red lories should have lots of time out of the cage to enjoy a supervised run of the room. They are like a red feathered monkey and will get into all sorts of mischief if an eye isn’t kept on them continually.


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All About Red Lories

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Reader Comments
informative article
james, brooklyn, NY
Posted: 5/18/2012 9:09:11 AM
Lories are lovely!
melinda, westchester, NY
Posted: 5/18/2012 9:06:10 AM
Interesting birds!
valerie, glen oaks, NY
Posted: 5/17/2012 11:00:45 PM
good article
joan, franklin square, NY
Posted: 5/17/2012 10:56:56 PM
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