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Introducing a Lorikeet Rule-Breaker – the Black Lory

black lorikeetsLories are among the most spectacularly-colored of all Psittacines, with the popular pet-trade species exhibiting an array of “screaming” red, blue, green and violet feathers (please see photo of the aptly-named Rainbow Lorikeet).  But there are somberly-colored members as well, typified by the Black Lory, Chalcopsitta atra (sometimes also known as the Rajah or Red-Quilled Lory).  But when it comes to lories, “somber” does not in any way equate with “dull”.  The jet-black plumage of this beauty is highlighted by a purple sheen and dark orange-red eyes, leaving one with an impression that is not soon forgotten.

Range and Habitat

The Black Lory ranges over Western New Guinea (the Western portion of Papua New Guinea’s Vogelkop Peninsula and Western Irian Jaya) and the nearby islands of Batanta and Salawati.  Four subspecies have been described.

The little field research that has been carried out indicates that Black Lories favor forest edges and sparsely-wooded grasslands.  Isolated tree stands in largely cleared areas are frequented, but they seem rarely if ever to penetrate very far into thickly-wooded habitats.  Large flocks, sometimes comprised of several species of lories and other birds, have been recorded.

Considerations for Prospective Owners

Black Lories exhibit many of their tribe’s desirable traits – constant activity, a curious demeanor and a willingness to bond with people if treated kindly – as well as those considered “not-so-desirable” – a loud, high pitched call that they employ most enthusiastically and an often aggressive attitude towards other birds.

In common with related species, Black Lories are quite sensitive to cold, damp conditions.  Their size (to 12.5 inches) and high energy levels suit them well for outdoor aviary maintenance, but in temperate regions they must be brought inside during the cooler months.  Indoor winter temperatures of 72-75 F are sufficient.


While Black Lories have been kept on a diet comprised largely of high quality commercial lory food, when caring for these birds at an importing facility years ago I favored a more complex diet.

Following the advice of several older bird-keepers of my acquaintance, I used commercial lory nectar but also provided twice-daily feedings of a fruit/vegetable pulp (pears, various berries, apples, pineapple, carrots, cucumber, honey).  To this was added egg food, rice flour and high-protein baby cereal, along with a variety of seeds, kale, sprouts and other greens, and fruit tree branches (with blossoms in season).


Although some breeding success has been had in large indoor cages, it is preferable to establish a mated pair outdoors in a quiet location.

Black Lories favor large nest boxes – one measuring approximately 16” x 16” x 22” will do nicely.  A typical clutch consists of 2 eggs, which are incubated for 22-24 days.  The young fledge in approximately 2 months.  Perhaps due to their high metabolisms, Black Lory parents require extra-large quantities of high quality foods.

Further Reading

You can read about the conservation status and IUCN evaluation of the Black Lory here.

Amusing video of a Black Lory bathing. 




Black Lorikeets image referenced from wikipedia and originally posted by elvranharris and snowmanradio

About Frank Indiviglio

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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.
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