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Blue-streaked Lory

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Is the Blue-streaked Lory right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Blue-necked Lory

Scientific name: Eos reticulata

The basics:
Like its better-known cousin, the Red Lory, the Blue-streaked Lory is talented, outgoing, and can learn to talk. These beautiful yet friendly avian clowns can be rewarding pets for the well-motivated, well-financed individual. Alas, they can be impractical for the average person, since they demand an expensive, high maintenance lifestyle.

The Blue-streak is ranked as “near-threatened” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, because of over-collecting for the pet market in the 1970s and 80s. Its situation may not be as dire as it looked back then, since a 1993 study found more individuals than expected. It is an adaptable species, and it can feed on flowering coconut or sago palms in plantations, as well as wild flowering trees. However, there's still a risk from continued trapping and habitat destruction.

Appearance:
The gorgeous Blue-streaked Lory is an eye-catching red nectar-eating parrot that you might confuse with its better known relative, the Red Lory. You can tell them apart because the Blue-streaked Lory is the only red lory with electric blue streaks on its mantle.

Weight:
145 - 155 grams (5.1 - 5.5 oz.)

Average size: 31 centimeters (12.2 in.)

Lifespan:
20 - 30 years

Behavior / temperament:
The Blue-streaked Lory is active, intelligent, and loves to play. While not particularly noisy for a parrot, it can vocalize and even learn to talk. Sometimes it can become possessive of its special person, so learn the signs that your bird is becoming beaky, and know how to distract it from biting. You don't want to inadvertently train your lory to nip to get its way. A well-socialized bird can be very affectionate, and your bird will expect to spend plenty of time with you.

They love to bathe and should be given access to plenty of clean water. However, they may also rub their bodies after their bath with a bit of material like a piece of eucalyptus pod. This behavior may look funny, but it's perfectly normal.

Housing:
Housing the Blue-streaked Lory, especially a single pet, is another genuine challenge. Like all lories, they tend to have loose, squirtable feces that are sticky, sweet, and quickly develop an odor, so it's important to set up a cage that's easy to clean. Some people advocate clear acrylic on the sides and back of the cage, and other people suggest a long, rather than a tall cage, since a lory that gets up high can squirt its mess much further than a bird who perches lower.

Many people recommend a hanging cage over a tile or concrete floor. We don't usually have concrete floors in our houses, but it's possible that we might have a family room with a quarry tile floor. Otherwise, put down lots of plastic over that carpet or wooden flooring, as well as any nearby walls that wouldn't be easy to wash off. A minimum size for your Blue-streaked Lory's flight cage is 24”w x 24”d x 24”h with no more than ¾” bar spacing, but these active birds do better with even more room. A Florida room or a conservatory might be a great place for your lory, but know your plants, since you can only have bird-safe greenery where you have a busy nectar-eater checking each flower.

Even though Blue-streaked Lories don't have the strongest beaks going, they can be beaky and they can develop a tendency to become nippy. You should train them to step up onto a hand or a perch, and you should have a playgym that is separate from the cage, to prevent an individual from becoming cage-bound or overly territorial. Provide plenty of toys and chew items to channel that energy. They may appreciate a small nest box to sleep in.

Diet:
Feeding a Blue-streaked Lory is a challenge. All lories and lorikeets are brush-tongued parrots, an unusual branch of the psittacine family tree that is evolved to feed on the nectar from flowering trees, with a little bit of flowers, fruit, and perhaps insects on the side. To create a practical version of this diet in captivity, most people start with a high quality, well-regarded commercial liquid nectar, with about 50% of the diet coming from the nectar and the remaining 50% coming from a fruit and vegetable puree or chop salad. If you have kept other parrots, you may be familiar with a chop salad that leans heavily toward the greens and vegetable side of the produce aisle. With the lories, you need to be focused mostly on the fruits, with a small amount of such vegetables as cooked corn added for variety.

Blue-streaked Lories should eat more like soft-billed birds than parrots. They're at risk for iron storage disease and gout, which means that they thrive on a low iron, low protein diet. Many deep green vegetables, including spinach, chard, and turnip tops, contain oxalates, a chemical that improves the body's ability to store iron – a bad thing for lories. Vitamin C also helps the body store iron, which means that you shouldn't overfeed C-rich citrus fruit like oranges. Similarly, a healthy “soak and cook” with plenty of sprouted beans and peas will have way too much protein for lories.

They cannot digest seed, and if you try to maintain your Blue-streaked Lory on a seed-based diet, it will starve. What about pellets? Most off-the-shelf pellets are dangerous for lories but, in recent decades, specialty suppliers have developed a small pellet or a dry powder, as an alternative to liquid nectar. However, not everyone agrees that these pellets are a healthy diet for lories. It does change the quality of their droppings, to make them firmer and easier to clean, but many breeders feel that liquid nectar is more natural and easier on the lory's system.

The major advantage of the new “dry” nectar is that you don't have sweet, damp food sitting in front of your bird all day. If you go this route, be sure to provide plenty of water in a nearby hanging water bottle. Be certain that the pellet or mix is a low iron product intended for lories.

Most experts do stick with liquid nectar, but we all know that nectar (sugar water!) is a great growth medium for bacteria. Hence, you have to change the nectar bottles frequently – every four hours during the day in hot weather and at least twice a day in any circumstance. You must never feed honey, avocado, or chocolate to your Blue-streaked Lory.

Written by Elaine Radford

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