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Meyer’s Lorikeet – Natural History and Captive Care

MaleoMost parrot aficionados know of the Meyer’s Parrot, but the beautiful green lorikeet bearing the same “first name” is relatively unstudied in the wild, and not commonly kept here in the USA. The Meyer’s Lorikeet (Trichoglossus flavoviridus mayeri), a subspecies of the Yellow-and-Green Lorikeet, differs from many related species in both coloration and social behavior.  A forest-dweller confined to a single island, this unique bird deserves the attention of aviculturists now, while wild populations are still relatively stable.


Three shades of green color the plumage of the 8-inch-long Meyer’s Lorikeet. The breast feathers and those behind the eye are tipped with yellow, and the bill is bright orange.  While lacking the “flamboyant” reds and blues often associated with lorikeets, it is quite spectacular in appearance.


The Meyer’s Lorikeet is endemic (found nowhere else) to Sulawesi, in Indonesia’s Greater Sunda Island chain. Sulawesi lies at a unique crossroad where animals originating in Australia and those from mainland Asia are found together. Over half of the island’s 125+ mammal species are endemic and most, such as the Anoa, Cuscus and Babirusa, are quite unusual and not well-known.

MaleoAlthough birds are more mobile than mammals, 34% of Sulawesi’s 400+ species “stay put”, and are found nowhere else on earth. Perhaps the most unique of these is the Maleo, the only bird that incubates its eggs by burying them in sand, in “crocodile-like” fashion (please see photo). Females test the soil’s temperature with specialized sensors in the bill, but other than adjusting the amount of cover offer no maternal care. Maleo chicks emerge from their subterranean nests well-able to fly and fend for themselves.


Meyer’s Lorikeets are limited to mountainous forests (please see photo), where they reside at elevations of 1,700-6,000+ feet. The many shades of green that color their plumage render these arboreal feeders difficult to observe among the foliage.

They also appear in lowland areas where forests remain intact, and will sometimes venture out into open country when favored flowers are in bloom. However, both older and current accounts indicate that heavy forest cover is essential Meyer’s Lorikeet habitat.

These shy but noisy birds are often observed in the company of gaily-colored Ornate Lorikeets – quite a sight, I imagine!


Meyer’s Lorikeet populations appear stable, but their status has not been well studied. Mountainsides within their range remain largely forested, which is a good sign. However, like all island endemics, they are especially vulnerable to habitat loss and other disturbances. The species is listed on Appendix II of CITES.


Meyer’s Lorikeets in Captivity

Mt KinabaluMeyer’s Lorikeets are not common in zoos or private collections in the USA, but have been bred by aviculturists in Europe and Asia. They are as “food oriented” as their relatives, but are somewhat shy initially and less likely to hand feed right away.

Although lories and lorikeets are notoriously difficult to house communally, especially during the breeding season (please see the article below), Meyer’s Lorikeets may sometimes be bred in small groups. They are best housed in an outdoor aviary (or, in cold weather, a bird room) that is equipped with a drain to allow for cleaning via hose. Spacious quarters, well stocked with branches and other diversions, are essential to the well-being of all parrots, but especially the very active and acrobatic lorikeets.

Loud shrill calls (please click here for a recording) are a fact of lorikeet life, and should be taken into consideration by prospective keepers.


Feeding is a major consideration in the husbandry of all lorikeets; none will thrive unless provided with a highly nutritious, carefully-planned diet.

Lory nectar mixed with a bit of molasses and soft food can form the basis of their diet, but this must be supplemented by other foods.

A wide variety of fruits and vegetables, including apples, pears, peaches, oranges, star fruit, kiwi, figs, banana, soft carrots, corn, Swiss chard, dandelion, and as many others as will be accepted, should be offered on a daily basis. Meyer’s Lorikeets will also take small amounts of millet and canary seed.

Mt KinabaluA paste of hard boiled eggs (ground with shells), egg food, cottage cheese and cooked carrots, sweetened with molasses, will provide necessary protein. Try mixing in some mealworms, crickets and other insects as well – I’ve found that some lorikeet species will accept these.

Lorikeets can be fussy…it is important to experiment until you find the proper mix or mode of presentation that works best in inducing your birds to accept the greatest variety of nutritious foods.



Further Reading

Field Report, Sulawesi: Meyer’s Lorikeets and other birds  

Sulawesi’s Endemic Birds (species list and notes) 

Aggression in Captive Lories and Lorikeets

The Wildlife of Gunung Ambang Preserve, Sulawesi



Maleo by Stavenn (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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  1. Pingback: Meyer's Lorikeet – Natural History and Captive Care | That Bird Blog | About Parrots

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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