The Misunderstood Lory


I picked one of our Red Wings among hundreds of young birds of dozens of various kinds that we have bred.

My all-time favorite pet is Lory babies. Roja, called for his stunning deep red plumage, is a never-ending source of entertainment for everybody. When I’m not out in the aviaries, he lives in a huge, black wrought iron cage in the kitchen-family room, where I spend the most of my time.

He spends the most of the day playing with his toys and devising new and inventive methods to do acrobatic acts. He often sits on his swing, legs stretched wide apart, pumping fiercely until the swing collides with the edges of the cage. He laughs and chatters the whole time, clearly having a great time. A circular, white plastic sink strainer is his favorite of all the sophisticated toys I’ve purchased him. He enjoys laying on his back and balancing the strainer on his feet before tossing it up in the air. He often clutches it in one foot and bounces over the cage floor, pulling the strainer back and forth. He loves to stand on his head in his food dish and dangle from his plastic rings by his toes or even his neck.

Despite the fact that I seldom have time for “lessons,” his vocabulary continues to grow. He whistles and summons the dog, chastises the cat for climbing on the counter, and asks for kisses. When I got a cold, he quickly learned to sneeze and cough, and he still does. Unlike our African Gray and Yellow nape, who go as quiet as the Sphinx when a stranger enters the room, Roja adores performing and will willingly go to anybody, kissing everyone.

The Lories are the perfect size for a house pet, smaller than Macaws and most Amazons but big enough to put on an outstanding show of their beautiful plumage. They seldom, if ever, acquire the morning and evening shrieking routines that many of the bigger species do.

In addition to the Red Lories, we have breeding pairs of Rainbow Lories and Chattering Lories in our aviaries. They are very gorgeous, with nearly astonishing color plumage. Even while they are reproducing, they are the aviary’s acrobatic clowns. Even the other birds seem to appreciate the show they put on.

Lories, however, are not particularly popular as house pets.

Most people see them as “dirty birds.” Their tendency of abruptly ejecting liquid droppings that quickly become nasty in odor is cause enough. Furthermore, preparing the nectar diet, which is commonly thought to be important for their excellent health, is a time-consuming task. Nectar powders are now available, although they are extremely pricey.

The Lories are physically distinct from other pstittacines. Their gizzards, which ordinarily digest food, are feeble and have minimal muscle. They are unable to digest a seed diet. They take in the liquid created by crushing flowers with their beaks in the wild. The pollen discharged from the bloom is neatly bundled into wads by their rough tongues and readily swallowed during this procedure.

I began experimenting with feeding the Lories the extruded pelleted meal that I offered my other birds around six years ago and was astonished at how quickly the changeover went. The adults loved the new meal, and the youngsters were raised on the same feeds as the rest of the flock. The main difference was that Lory newborns learned to feed on their own far faster than others.

We are on our fourth generation of Lories, all of whom consume just extruded pelleted parrot food. They share a treat of fruit or greens with the other birds, but no nectar or vitamin supplements. They are prolific, consistently producing large clutches of healthy offspring.

Several of our Lories have not only reached the top bench at bird exhibitions, but have also been singled out as excellent plumage specimens. They are all excellent swimmers who maintain themselves in top shape.

It’s natural that they’re not “launching” liquid stools anymore. Even healthy individuals on a diet of nectar and fruits would quickly want Pepto Bismal! Their droppings are typical of a parrot. Only standard cleaning procedures are required for their upkeep. The walls and carpets around Roja’s cage are clean.

My sole encounter has been with the Red, Chattering, and Rainbow Lories. More fragile species and more cautious feeders may not react in the same way. When making a major change in food, like with any bird, much patience and careful observation are essential for an extended period of time. The consequences on the bird’s health must be continuously evaluated as changes are made gradually.

I’m thrilled with my Lories since there are no special nectar diets to prepare and no “dirty birds” to bother with.

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