Lory/Lorikeet Basics

Lories have all of the colors of the rainbow; sometimes all in one bird. My in-depth experience is limited to the more common lories although I have seen just about all of them that are in the United States either in aviaries or zoos. The availability of Lory and Lorikeet species in aviculture or as human companions depends a lot on whether their country of origin permitted their capture for the pet trade and when it was allowed. Some lory family birds were available to early aviculturists way back in the 1800s and if they were bred regularly, these bird became fairly common in captivity. However, many weren't known in captivity until the 1970s to the mid 1980s during the height of the exportation of wild parrots. If and when various countries ceased exporting their Lory species, if that species wasn't in captivity already, it is not available now. The other key to Lories and Lorikeets being in aviculture is whether the birds were bred successfully in captivity. Some are proverbial "hot house flowers" and although they were imported into the U.S., they are rare because either no one bred them or they presented too many dietary and/or difficulties with their care. Some lories and lorikeets didn't adapt to captivity because it caused them too much stress. 

Birds in the Lory family have always fascinated me. They are generally very active, busy birds that are a lot of fun to watch. I always thought it would be enjoyable to have large aviaries with a variety of Lories/Lorikeets and just sit in the shade with a glass of ice tea and watch them all day. Of course, I am sure that it would also be a lot of work and lories can be high maintenance both because of their diet and the fact that they can be aggressive to other birds. I would also have to have very good information about which lories/lorikeets were compatible with each other because some can be quite aggressive with other birds.

Lories are generally fun-loving, active, comical, acrobatic, playful, absolutely entertaining and all of that makes up for the “squirt.” While there are powdered foods and pelleted diets formulated for lories, not all of them do well on these and some need nectar and/or fresh fruits and veggies. The consistency of their droppings will depend on their diet. Most lories and lorikeets love bathing and showering. 

 Some lories become decent talkers even though many seem to have a possessed little voice. Many make high-pitched calls that may be objectionable to some people. Cage size should be large and based on their high energy rather than their size. Cages should have lots of perches, swings, and toys. Lories really enjoy long colorful jangley toys — washable ones are really handy. Wooden toys will be difficult to keep clean. I think that a cage without a grate or paper on the grate is the best for lories because they love to play on the floor surface with foot toys. Keeping the paper changed frequently really helps. I don’t recommend cage materials that can get wet and moldy as these can cause serious health problems with Lories. If the floor is too difficult to keep clean for play, a platform of some kind half way up their cage can work for their roll around play. Frequent bathing and showering is essential — most lories will dive right into water when they see it. Being a high-energy, assertive bird, some lories can be aggressive (especially to other birds) so nurturing guidance is essential. I remember many years ago when the Sedgewick County Zoo in Wichita, KS opened their large Australian enclosure, they placed both Lories and Rosellas inside the large flight area. I don't remember the specific Lories but these birds set about to try and kill the Rosellas almost immediately. I knew this could happen because of my experiences with parrot-family birds so it surprised me that the zoo put lories in the large enclosure with other birds. The Lories had to be removed to another location because of their aggression.  

Some Lories and Lorikeets can be fed a dry powdered diet or pellets as part of their food intake, while others will thrive better on a diet with nectar as the primary ingredient. As with all parrots, I don't recommend relying on a manufactured diet as the total food in any bird's diet. Fruit and vegetable should also be a part of a lory/lorikeet's diet. Some people have observed that birds in the Lory family seem in some ways to have dietary similarities to softbills. Lory family birds have been diagnosed with iron storage disease so caregivers should take the time to learn which fruits and vegetables are high iron and not include those in their birds' diets. Make sure that you do the necessary research to know the best diet for your Lory. The downside for some people in regards to Lories and Lorikeets is their "squirts". Dry foods may promise that the birds will have more solid droppings. However most Lories won't stay healthy eating just these manufactured diets so make sure that they get a varied diet with some nectar and nutritious fresh foods. Some of the foods that many Lories like include pollen, nectar, flowers, berries and other fruits, veggies, insects, and some seed.  

Over the years I have seen several lories in differing situations that didn't have the high energy spirit that is so common with them. With these birds, whether they are young Lories or mature birds, I have found that this uncharacteristic lack of energy is often a result of a yeast infection. These can be a problem with Lories because of the high sugar content of their diets. When a normally excitable Lory becomes "wimpy", he or she needs to see a qualified avian veterinarian.

Doing a project like this is one of the ways that I become more familiar with more parrot species. One of the interesting parts of the study of lories and lorikeets is how many of them fit into the "Rainbow Lory" group: Trichoglossus. These birds have a great deal of similarities in their appearance with many color variations.Some of them are considered to be sub-species, while others are now considered to be their own species. I have drawn several of them but may not get around to drawing them all because as far as I can tell there are about 14 birds that fit into the "Rainbow Lorikeet" variety. It is confusing to try and determine from the sources available as to which of these lorikeets are considered to be sub-species and which ones are considered to be separate species.

The lories and lorikeets represented in the profiles below are certainly not all of them. I will be adding more as time permits me to do more drawings. They are arranged alphabetically by common name.


Of course, I am very fond of the Oasis lories as well ... these days we are down to three Green-naped Rainbows, Ophelia the Black Lory, Speedy the Violet Necked, Jellybean the Blue-streaked, and Percy the Chattering Lory. Percy recently lost his long time mate Olive, so she's bonded with Harley, one of the Rainbows. Ophelia and Harley had bonded prior to that and when Percy was released back into the flight, Ophelia attacked her relentlessly ... so presently Ophelia's being caged by herself in the middle of the flight and she's not happy about it. I wish we had a better solution for her. I adore her but she is really the most aggressive and the largest lory that we have and she chases and attacks Speedy in particluar when she is over-amped. Loves, loves people of course. Mixed species lory flights are complicated ... one of my friends who worked at a zoo where they tried to have mixed flights said the Chalcopsittas were lften one of the main aggressors, they had trouble with the Yellow-streaks. I talked to another person at the Philadelphia zoo who had problems with Blacks. I've heard of course that Lorius species are also often aggressive when mixed, but our Chattering pair wasn't too bad back when they were healthy ... only Ophelia was a problem. She would start a fight and they both would jump on her. Ophelia was at my house (I think in early 2009) recovering from an attack shortly after I started working at the Oasis. She was very unhappy to be kept in a back room away from the action near my caged male Goldie's. but no way could I trust her in my mail room with my grey, etc. She is very high maintenance although she is an absolute doll. I feel ideally that she would be a single companion bird for someone who could spend a ton of time with her or she should have another Chalcopsitta for a companion/mate. She was bonded to her brother Othello before he passed away.  

ALL drawings are copyrighted and may not be used in any form without the written permission of Sally Blanchard




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