Home | Bird Species Profiles | Bat-like Birds: Meet Asia’s Brilliant Hanging Parrots (Genus Loriculus)

Bat-like Birds: Meet Asia’s Brilliant Hanging Parrots (Genus Loriculus)


The aptly-named hanging parrots are unique in their habit of roosting upside down – hanging from branches in the manner of brightly colored bats.  When I first kept these birds in a zoo exhibit, I was quite surprised to hear a soft call being produced by the resting males, but subsequently learned that this odd behavior is also typical of the group.

Some, including the commonly-kept blue crowned hanging parrot (L. galgulus), are stunningly beautiful in coloration, and all are active and a real pleasure to watch.  In common with certain love birds, to which the hanging parrots are likely related, females carry nesting material tucked among the rump feathers.

Range and Habitat

Fourteen species of hanging parrots range throughout south and Southeast Asia.  Their distribution is such that, except for 2 species which occupy the Celebes Islands, nowhere do the ranges of any one species overlap with that of another.

Most favor lightly-wooded areas and forest edges, and often appear in parks, gardens, orchards and plantations, especially when food trees are flowering.

Diet…and alcohol intake!

Hanging parrots often feed in a head-down position, and favor soft fruits, figs, berries and, especially, nectar.  They behave much like lories and lorikeets when foraging in flowering trees – scrambling wildly among the blossoms and seemingly untroubled by people in the vicinity.  Seeds and insects are taken by some species as well.

In regions where coconut palm liquor is collected in open containers, the vernal hanging parrot (L. vernalis) is said to gorge itself until “overtaken by drunkenness”!

Threats and Endangered Species

Some hanging parrot species adjust well to human presence, and even colonize agricultural areas, feeding upon commercially grown fruits and flowering trees.  Their small size renders them relatively inconspicuous, and persecution as crop pests is not common.  However, habitat loss is a real concern for many, and 2 species are in rather desperate straits.

The Sangihe hanging parrot (L. catamene), limited in distribution to the tiny Indonesian island of the same name, is threatened by logging and the diseases spread by parrots that have escaped captivity.  It seems to feed largely upon coconut nectar, but little else is known of its natural history.

Found in only 8 locales on Flores and nearby islands in Indonesia, the endangered Flores hanging parrot (L. flosculus) has lost most of its habitat to farms and other forms of development.

Hanging Parrots as Pets

Hanging parrots are rather shy and need frequent attention if they are to become accepting of close contact.  They do not talk, but mimic whistles very well.  Not nearly as noisy as most of their relatives, hanging parrots do best in warm (they are cold-sensitive) calm, quiet surroundings.  They are quite inoffensive, and in an aviary will get along well with finches, doves, button quail and other birds.

The Blue-Crowned Hanging Parrot, Loriculus galgulus

Ranging from southern Thailand to Borneo, this little fellow reaches a mere 5 inches in length, and is the most commonly-kept and spectacularly-colored of the group.  Its bright green plumage is set off by very brilliant red feathers about the throat, rump and above the tail, and there is a yellow cast to the back.  Males have a blue blotch on the head.  The effect of all this bright color on such a tiny, animated bird must be seen first hand to be fully appreciated.

Blue crowned hanging parrots will utilize a parakeet/lovebird sized nest box  for breeding.  The 3-4 eggs are incubated for approximately 20 days, and the chicks fledge in 5 weeks.  While incubating, the hen is fed by the male, but only she feeds the chicks.

Hanging parrot care generally parallels that of lories and lorikeets, and lory nectar  is an important component of the diet.

Further Reading

You can read more about the endangered Sangihe hanging parrot and related species at:


Image referenced from Wikipedia and originally posted by snowmanradio.



  1. avatar

    My Blue-crowneds hatch at 18 days and fledge at 28 days. My males also feed the chicks, but only after all have hatched. He watches carefully all the goings on in the nestbox from his perch at the entrance hole. Usually a day after the last hatch, he tip-toes gingerly into the nestbox, ready to leave if the female objects. But she usually does not and then he will share in the feeding of the chicks. After he comes out, he excitedly hops all about and sings so happily!

  2. avatar

    Hello Lyn, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Thanks very much for your observations…it’s interesting to see that your chicks fledge earlier than is usually reported, and that the males, and not just the hens, feed the chicks. I imagine the change in the males’ behaviors is influenced by captivity in general and your situation specifically. Very interesting that the males take care to make sure that their attentions are welcome – something is driving them to feed the young, yet they are instinctively cautious.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

About Frank Indiviglio

Read other posts by

I believe that I was born with an intense interest in animals, as neither I nor any of my family can recall a time when I was not fascinated by creatures large and small. One might imagine this to be an unfortunate set of circumstances for a person born and raised in the Bronx, but, in actuality, quite the opposite was true. Most importantly, my family encouraged both my interest and the extensive menagerie that sprung from it. My mother and grandmother somehow found ways to cope with the skunks, flying squirrels, octopus, caimans and countless other odd creatures that routinely arrived un-announced at our front door. Assisting in hand-feeding hatchling praying mantises and in eradicating hoards of mosquitoes (I once thought I had discovered “fresh-water brine shrimp” and stocked my tanks with thousands of mosquito larvae!) became second nature to them. My mother went on to become a serious naturalist, and has helped thousands learn about wildlife in her 16 years as a volunteer at the Bronx Zoo. My grandfather actively conspired in my zoo-buildings efforts, regularly appearing with chipmunks, boa constrictors, turtles rescued from the Fulton Fish Market and, especially, unusual marine creatures. It was his passion for seahorses that led me to write a book about them years later. Thank you very much, for a complete biography of my experience click here.
Scroll To Top