Species group: Lories and Lorikeets
Other common names: Forsten's Lorikeet, Rainbow Lorikeet (one of several species under this name), Scarlet-breasted Lorikeet
Scientific name: Trichoglossus forsteni
The colorful Sunset Lorikeet was formerly considered a subspecies of Rainbow Lorikeet, but it has recently been split off into its own species. All members of the Rainbow Lorikeet group are highly regarded for brains as well as beauty. Properly socialized birds have been trained to fly to anyone, and 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. This colorful island species can be found in the wild on Bali, Lombok, and a few other Indonesian islands.
Many lorikeets in the Trichoglossus genus have a green nape, so don't assume that a green nape means a Green-naped Lorikeet. The Sunset Lorikeet has a bright red chest, unmarked or mostly unmarked with fine lines or scallops.
100 - 157 grams (3.5 - 5.5oz.)
25 centimeters (10 in.)
15 - 25 years
Behavior / temperament:
Trichoglossus "Rainbow" lories don't know their own size. These energetic birds may try to dominate the home, including other pets. They are intelligent, so keep them occupied learning tricks and playing with toys, rather than giving them the opportunity to pull the cat's tail. 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 lorikeet to nip to get its way.
Any of the Rainbow Lorikeets has the potential to become a playful clown and a decent talker. Start early, work with kindness and respect, and you may be surprised at the pet quality of these beautiful birds. Never assume that your lorikeet will stay sweet without any effort.
Housing the Sunset Lorikeet, 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 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 Sunset Lorikeets 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.
Feeding any lorikeet 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.
Sunset Lorikeets are 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 Sunset Lorikeet 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, or don't even consider it.
That said, 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 lorikeet.
Written by Elaine Radford
Cheeky clown in colour and attitude!
The Rainbow Lorikeet is not for the inexperienced pet owner. Owing to their specialised dietary needs, intelligence and capacity for destruction they are unfriendly to beginners.
Due to their nectar-eating nature they require a special supplemented diet of soft, mushy foods that will not damage the fine bristles on the end of their tongue. The nature of this food makes it and their waste extremely messy and time consuming to clean up.
However with the right owner these parrots can be worth every bit of effort. They are one of the most characterful birds available and highly intelligent. They will socialise constantly and vocally, and have a definite attitude unique to the species. Notably they seem to have a concept of ownership, and if you're caught touching their toys or home you are in for a mauling! They will actively play with these toys in a variety of intriguing and cute ways.
They can get aggressive and despite their size can cause a lot of damage to digits or soft tissue with their pointed beak. They can readily draw blood and seem to know the weak points (between the fingers or between your finger and nail! Ouch!). I would recommend leaving them alone when they show this behaviour or allowing another person to handle them to disperse the moodiness.
They are long-lived and very active, their high pitched squawk is very distinctive but if experienced close can be painfully loud!
If you are willing to deal with the added mess, occasional temper tantrums and specific food requirements they make a lovable and fascinating pet for a bird lover!.
From deL Mar 4 2013 5:28AM