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Aggression in Lories and Lorikeets (Psittacidae, Lorinae)


The 56 lory and lorikeet species are among the most gorgeous and active of all parrots, and are usually quite bold in character.  In both the wild (particularly Australia) and in zoos, lory feeding stations are a great hit with tourists, with hundreds of colorful birds flocking onto treat-bearing visitors.

The Effect of Feeding Ecology

Lory and lorikeets rely primarily upon a relatively scarce, widely-scattered food source – pollen and nectar, and herein lays the explanation for their aggressive feeding behavior.  Competition at feeding sites has fostered in these birds a repertoire of over 30 threat displays…a far greater number than is seen in other parrots.  Unfortunately, these tendencies often express themselves as aggressive behaviors in captivity, with even long-paired birds sometimes running into difficulties.

Space and Aggression

A change in the environment is frequently a pre-cursor to aggression.  Giving the birds more room – a great concept in principal – often leads to fighting.  This is true for many birds (and other animals)…I once lost 2 white-crested laughing jay thrushes to aggression after giving birds that had lived peaceably together for 18 month access to an adjoining cage.  Of course, crowding can also lead to fights, but the possibility of extending or establishing a territory seems an especially strong factor.  Lories seem particularly prone to this phenomenon.

Adding a Nest Box

The provision of a nest box may bring on breeding-related aggression in an otherwise peaceful male, and moving even a long-established pair to a new cage is always a cause for concern.  Be sure to observe your birds carefully at such times, and separate them if you will be away for long periods when the change is first instituted.

Introducing Birds

Introduce new birds by caging them side-by-side, and confine a possibly troublesome individual to a small cage or carrier within the larger cage, if space permits, to allow the birds to get used to each other.  I relied upon this method with a wide variety of birds in zoo situations, and found it most useful.  If using a carrier for the introduction, choose one with barred as opposed to solid sides, so that the birds can interact.  Pets International Take Me Home Traveler is ideal.

Other Considerations

Limiting mobility by clipping the wings of aggressive birds is another tried and proven method of easing the introduction process.  The availability of a wide variety of bird toys and a complex, well-perched cage will go a long way in keeping your birds occupied with constructive (rather than destructive!) activities.  Of course, proper lory nutrition is essential in fostering normal behavior and good relations among your pets.



Please also see my article on lory and lorikeet feeding behavior and natural history:

Lories and Lorikeets – why do they differ so from other parrots?

Image referenced from Wikipedia.

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