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The Yellow-Bibbed Lory

Learn about the care, history and pet bird potential of the yellow-bibbed lory.

By Dick Schroeder

Before the early 1990s, the yellow-bibbed lory (Lorius chlorocercus) was nearly unknown in U.S. aviculture and, even then, only a handful of the birds were imported from the Solomon Islands. In 1998, a captive breeding consortium, called the Solomon Island Parrot Consortium (SIPC), was formed and received permission from the government of the Solomon Islands and permits from USFWS to import 30 pairs of each of the six species of lories found in the Solomon Islands.

These 60 yellow-bibbed lories were the first species imported under this permit. From these original 60 birds, there are now enough birds that they are beginning to show up as pets from time to time. They were bred for the first time in United States in 1989, in the Seattle aviaries of Jan van Oosteen, who is considered the force behind obtaining this group of 30 pairs.

Yellow-bibbed lories, like the rest of the genus Lorius, are large (11 inches), stout birds with fairly long, wide tails. All of the Lorius species have green wings and mostly red body feathers and all have black-capped lories (except for the chattering lories and yellow-backed lories). As with nearly all lories, two eggs are laid in each clutch and incubation is about 26 days. Yellow-bibbed lory chicks hatch covered in dense white down and they have brown beaks.

As pets, whether here or in their native land, they are excellent, as are the others of their genus, which include the chattering and yellow-backed chattering lories and all of the black-capped lories, purple-bellied, white-naped and the purple-naped lories. The chattering and black-capped lories are the only species, besides the yellow-bibbed lory, that are likely to be encountered as pets. The others are either non-existent in the United States, or are far too rare and are, therefore, kept as breeders.

Diet Differences For Yellow-Bibbed Lories
Many lory species do quite well on a diet of nectar and some fruit, but this is not so with the yellow-bibbed lory. They should be fed about 25-percent solid food along with their nectar. By solid food, I refer to a variety of fruit (no citrus) and vegetables, maybe a bit of pound cake, a carrot or perhaps some cooked brown rice. Even a few sunflower seeds wouldn’t hurt.

They also must be provided with a supply of fresh water, even if the nectar takes care of their liquid intake. They love to bathe, but prefer rubbing around in wet foliage.

Yellow-Bibbed Lories Are Talented Talker
As with all of the Lorius, yellow-bibbed lories are loud, gregarious birds with a great ability to mimic all sorts of sounds, including the human voice. I believe that they the least vocal of the genus, though it can’t be said that they are quiet. They are among the best talkers of all of the lories.

They are also extremely intelligent birds, perhaps the smartest of the lories, and, as such, they need plenty of mental stimulation, lots of toys of various types, time out of the cage with the owner or a companion bird. Warning! If you’re considering a companion bird, be aware that the larger lory species are very quick to injure or even kill another bird, so much caution should be exercised should you wish to attempt this. Certainly it can be done, but do it with care. It’s actually quite easy to introduce two birds as youngsters. Older adult birds might have the aggressive problems.

Personal Experience With Yellow-Bibbed Lories
As one of the original members of the Solomon Island Parrot Consortium, I was also able to obtain birds from our original importation in 1998. The birds were supposed to arrive already sexed in the field by an Australian veterinarian, but we took no chances and each of the participants had their birds re-sexed — good thing, as about 25 percent were wrong. We traded them around amongst ourselves until all were satisfied that all was fair and then went about setting them up for breeding.

I had already been successful in breeding chattering lories and black-capped lories, so I set the yellow-bibbed lory up in the same type of breeding cages. These were suspended cages or California Breeders, as they are sometimes called. They were 3-feet square by 6-feet long, about 3-feet above the ground on metal supports. Half of the roof was covered, and the other half open to the elements, which in San Diego County are never too harsh. The nestbox provided was 12-inches square and 24-inches deep with a 3-inch diameter entrance hole. The boxes were hung outside of the cage, in the safety aisle.

I found the yellow-bibbed lory easier to breed than either the chattering or the black-capped lory and just as easy to hand-rear. I left many with the parents as well, and they did a fine job of raising the young.

The diet was, as mentioned earlier, nectar and a variety of other foods. All of my birds stayed within the SIPC when I downsized my aviary several years ago. The SIPC is no longer in existence (although there is talk of trying to revive it), so any existing yellow-bibbed lories are no longer tied to the consortium and are free to be sold as pets or to other breeders. I don’t know of any in zoos in the United States, but there very well might be some in off-exhibit breeding set-ups.

If you are lucky enough to come across one of these special lories for a pet, remember to offer the largest cage you have room for or can afford, lots of different toys (they need not be expensive, as a lory will make a toy from most anything), and give plenty of your time to keep it happy. You’ll both be rewarded. 

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