Every so often, I become enthralled with a specific species of parrot. When I first started on this path to parrothood, it was the smaller poicephalus since that was the species of my first bird. I had never seen a Jardine’s parrot before and I count myself lucky that Arthur chose me to be his forever friend and my first avian companion.
After I began volunteering at A Helping Wing, my vernacular began to change rapidly and I had begun handling and caring for birds that I had never imagined I ever would. It started with the toucan, with its strange, fur-like feather base and saw blade beak. Macaws came next, in all shapes and sizes. It’s hard not to become enthralled with them. The Amazons and Greys, though numerous in our care, never really had a draw for me. For me, the Amazons tend to be a tad bi-polar and the Greys, well, the ones I’ve had the privilege of meeting weren’t very social and seemed to enjoy rather being left alone. I enjoy birds that interact, whether good or bad, and want to be handled and played with. That’s when I met Fiesta.
A few months into my work at the rescue, I began spending time in the office doing paperwork and updating databases. At the time, there was a cage in the office that housed Fiesta, a Rainbow Lorie. Fiesta was just as hyper and twice as chatty as any other bird I had dealt with. One day I just sucked in my fear, opened the door and let fate take over.
Fiesta was a brilliant companion for me in the office after that. She would leap off her cage, as only Lories can, and she would spend hours pacing around my shoulders and arms, sitting on my head or chatting with me and kissing me on the ear. She did nip me a few times, but considering their beaks were only meant to deal with nectar and soft fruits, it was nothing like the bites I was used to from the other birds.
The tongue freaked me out in the beginning. It’s a long, narrow tongue with a sort of brush on the end, useful in robbing flowers of their pollen. Like a hummingbird, they are very quick with it. If you have something yummy on your finger, they are eager to lick it and the strange fluttery sensation is a bit odd until you get used to it.
Once we moved to our new, larger location, our flock of Lories grew. We now have several rainbow Lories, a chattering Lorie, a dusky Lorie and two blue streak Lories and over the past several weeks, it has become a sort of passion of mine to care for them, play with them and learn about them.
Lories are playful, inquisitive and a bundle of chattering energy. Their special diet of nectar and soft fruits and veg make for a very messy outcome and those who are unaware of this and purchase a Lorie as a pet soon find that they are in over their heads.
Their feces are dark, runny and sprayed everywhere which makes it a necessity to clean their cage and surroundings daily to avoid any number of bacteria, mold and illnesses, such as thrush. The easiest way we have found to deal with this small drawback is to cover all surrounding walls with textured PVC sheeting like you’d use in your shower. It can be hosed down and cleaned very easily. We’re lucky in that the floors in the rescue are concrete and just as easy to hose down, but an average Lorie owner would need to either have washable flooring, such as linoleum, or place additional sheeting under the cage to be able to keep up with the mess. This is non-negotiable. If your cage area is carpeted, it will be destroyed within days and stained beyond repair.
One of the trials of being a Lorie owner, aside from the massive cleaning, is their diet. I find it fun and challenging to look for recipes and have found several good sources for treats that they love. Considering their natural diet, it is no surprise that they appreciate doses of natural fruit and vegetable drinks and soft, seasonal fruits are easy to come by. Apples are always available (as is applesauce) and pears, Asian oranges and other citrus are a great standby. They can eat any number of melons, berries and plums as well. On the vegetable side, leafy greens are always enjoyed by them, as are juicy veg like corn, peas and beans.
Treats can be playful and creative. Wide straws filled with a honey and nectar mixture are always fun as are pieces of bread soaked in fruit jams or spreads like pumpkin butter. I have been told by a breeder I am acquainted with that they absolutely go insane over freshly cut hibiscus flowers and that placing an entire flower covered branch into their cages will send them into a thrill-induced bliss. I have yet to experience this as hibiscus isn’t readily available in my area, but I am dying to try this and any number of other flowers native to their species.
All drawbacks aside, Lories are a fun, excitable companion to have. Most love to be cuddled and will spend hours joyfully talking in your ear or playing with you like a puppy. They roll about their cages merrily tossing toys and food and they can climb and leap with the expertise of a gymnast. They are quick learners and excellent at sound mimicry. Though they aren’t great talkers, they can and do talk with ease and I would encourage anyone with interest to experience them up close and allow them to steal your heart as they have stolen mine.