Violet-necked Lory

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Doug Janson

Is the Violet-necked Lory right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Violet-naped Lory; Violet-headed Lory; Wallace's Violet-necked Lory

Scientific name: Eos squamata

The basics:
Smaller than the better known Red Lory, the Violet-necked Lory is considered to be one of the more gentle Eos lories. They love to play with their people, and they are respected as decent mimics who aren't too loud or noisy. Despite being a well-liked pet, it is fairly unusual in captivity, and it can be impractical for the average person, since they demand an expensive, high maintenance lifestyle.

All three subspecies hail from several islands in Indonesia, including the Western Papuan Islands and the Northern Moluccas. If you plan to breed your birds, always consult with an expert, to make sure you're pairing the proper subspecies. There is a variable amount of violet in the collars of individuals, as well as between the subspecies, so it gets a bit tricky without proper guidance. This widespread species is fairly common and highly visible as it wanders in flocks in search of flowering trees. It is bold and adaptable and will fly across water from island to island.

The Violet-necked Lory is a gorgeous scarlet parrot with a violet collar around the neck.

110 grams (4 oz.)

Average size:
27 centimeters (10.5 in.)

20 - 30 years

Behavior / temperament:
The Violet-necked Lory is active, intelligent, and loves to play. While not particularly noisy for a parrot, it can vocalize and even learn to talk. As a smaller lory, they have a good reputation for not harassing other birds or pets, but you should supervise with care before placing them in a mixed aviary situation. A single pet will probably prefer to be your pet, instead of part of the flock. Because of their friendly yet gentle nature compared to similar-looking bright red lories, they are becoming more popular.

The Violet-necked Lory may be at risk for feather plucking. Don't allow the bird to become bored or lonely, and let the bird meet the person who will care for them when you can't be there. However, if the bird plucks anyway, don't assume it's a psychological problem until you have a complete work-up by an avian vet, since lories can develop some feather diseases that require expert attention.

Housing the Violet-necked 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 Violet-necked 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.

Although Violet-necked Lories don't generally like to bite or pinch, you should still 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 a Violet-necked 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.

Violet-necked Lories 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 Violet-necked 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 dry 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 Violet-necked Lory.

Written by Elaine Radford

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