Black Lory

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Is the Black Lory right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Red-quilled Lory; Rajah Lory

Scientific name: Chalcopsitta atra

The basics:
The Black Lory, once little known to most pet owners, is developing a superb reputation for sweetness, and personality. Like all Chalcopsitta lories, this species has the capacity to be an affectionate pet who doesn't become aggressive or nippy,.But it is fairly unusual in captivity, and it can be impractical for the average person, since these lories demand an expensive, high maintenance lifestyle.

There are three subspecies of Black Lories found in western New Guinea and some nearby smaller Indonesian islands.

he Black Lory is distinguished by its unusual black plumage, which seems to reveal a purple or plum-colored shimmer in sunlight. The true black subspecies is the nominate, C. a. atra -- a truly unique lory singled out as the only black parrot with a black bill and a bluish rump. C. a. bernsteini has reddish-purple touches on forehead and thighs, while the most colorful subspecies, C. a. insignis boasts scarlet touches on the forehead, face, thighs, and underwing-coverts.

230 - 270 grams (8.1 - 9.5 oz.)

Average size:
32 centimeters (12.6 in.)

10 - 20 years

Behavior / temperament:
The Black Lory is considered a lovable lory that is much less likely to nip than some of the better-known species. One expert went so far as to say he had never met one that became a biter, although some birds may be shy. They are naturally friendly to their special people, although you should take care to expose your pet to others early, because they may have a tendency to become a one-person parrot. These friendly birds want to be involved with you, so never neglect or ignore them, and be sure to keep them busy with a variety of toys.

Warning: Some people dislike the high-pitched voice.

Housing the Black 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 Black Lory's flight cage is 36”w x 48”d x 24”h, 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.

The active Black Lory enjoys playing with toys. The playgym will be a great place where they can interact with you, do tricks, and investigate a variety of colorful toys. Your pet may also appreciate a small sleep box.

Black Lories 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.

Black Lories are extremely vulnerable to iron storage disease, 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 Black 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, 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 Black Lory.

Written by Elaine Radford


playful nature, outdoor flight cage, social bird, excellent pets


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