The Back-winged Lory, Eos cyanogenia

Rich Perniciaro

Metarie, LA

Other Names: Blue-cheeked lory, Biak red lory

Subspecies: None recognized

Regions of Origin: The islands of Greelviink Bay, the island of Biak, Islands of Irian Jaya-Numfor, Manim, Meos Num and Supiori

Wild Status: As per Rosemary Low's Encyclopedia of Lories, page 208, "In 1986, Bishop found it was common and widespread on Biak and Supiori, but virtually unknown on Numfor and Manim." By the time this article is printed, I will have returned from my trip to Indonesia (June 2000) and can tell you at a later date just what I will have seen for myself.

Habitat: Mostly along the coasts, usually in coconut palms

Eggs/Incubation: 24-26 Days, two eggs

Description: As with all Eos, primarily a red bird. The wings have a large solid black patch extending from the top to 80% down the wing. The inner primaries are black on top and red below, and on most individuals, the outer primaries end in bright yellow trimmed in black (not all birds, and the amount of yellow varies). Beak ranges in color from bright red to maroon. Legs are gray and the iris is reddish brown. Large purple / blue "v" shaped patch which starts at the eyes and continues out to the rear of the head, with these feathers being slightly longer than the surrounding red feathers. This forms a sort of a horizontal crest, which when they are excited, seems to extend and raise further than the surrounding red feathers (note though, they cannot control this as say a cockatoo might). The area under the eyes and behind the beak is a brighter red than the rest of the body. The immature have extreme black barring in the red feathering of the body and a black beak.

My experiences: In Christmas 1997 I finally got my first pair of black-winged lories. I had been looking for several months and had almost given up on ever getting a pair. The lady that was selling them called me and said that they were available. I drove ten hours the next day and picked them up! On the way home I could not help noticing the strong, but not unpleasant musky smell that these birds have. I enjoyed these birds so much in the first few weeks that I decided I would do everything that I could do to save them in aviculture. I proceeded to purchase every black wing I could find, whether pet or breeder. There were times that I paid twice or three times what a bird was worth on the open market. After three years, I have ten pairs and three extra males. Of those, five pair are mature, one pair is immature, three pair are old enough (two-three year olds) and one pair (the first) are imports. At first I thought the problem was that not enough were kept back for breeding and too many had gone into the pet trade. While this may have been a contributing factor, after three years and much research I have concluded that they are just VERY hard to breed in captivity. Out of all of these pairs, only three pair produce and those not every year. When they do have young or eggs in the nest, I have to be very careful not to look into the nest box or even make eye contact, especially with the males. If I do, I am sure to find cracked eggs, dead young or female in the nestbox! Out of all of the species that I have had (8 or so species), Black-winged lories are definitely the most easily spooked. Contrary to what I have read, they are not noisy birds and will readily imitate whistles that I use to call my Jack Russell terrier while in the yard. I live in the southern USA and they tolerate our mild winters and hot humid summers well. I feed using two commercial diets, which comprises no more than 20-30% of their total diet with the rest being fresh fruits and vegetables. I feed twice daily, once before work and once when I get home from work. I do agree with most of the literature that I have read that says that the black-winged seem to eat less than other Eos species. I frequently find uneaten corn, powder, or apples in their cages (which is why I have the Jack Russell terrier, to control vermin). My lories are in hanging cages that are roughly six feet long, three feet wide and four feet high with classic "L" shaped nest boxes at the rear of the cages. There has been much speculation as to housing and weather or not black-winged lories should be housed next to each other. While I do know of at least one breeder who has success housing then together, I feel that they do better separated by other species, otherwise the males hang on the sides of the cages spending their time "protecting" their territory. Two of the three other people in the United States that I can confirm have had success in breeding the black-winged lories incubate the eggs to ensure their survival. I estimate that there are less than 50 pair of black-winged lories left in the USA (based on the young available, other breeder’s collections, and how long it took me to collect the specimens that I have). So far I have been unsuccessful in any of my birds rearing their own young and all have been hand fed. I may in the near future try foster parents as a way of raising the young.

Of the three extra males that I have, one is a habitual female killer (he has killed three) and will forever be a show bird (It should be noted that this bird is most agreeable and is of superb pet quality), one other is just mature and the third is a handsome male that has a band of 1969, which would make him 31 years old! This bird is also stunning and has placed at many shows in the last two years. If I ever get an extra female, I am interested to see if he can still produce offspring as he seems to be calmer than the others.

Will they survive in aviculture? I do not know the answer to that question, but with the continuing interest in these, in my opinion the most majestic of the Eos species, I am sure that breakthroughs are on the horizon. I have no idea on the black wing numbers in other countries and would welcome any data that anyone out there may have. 

Below you will find a list of the books that have pictures or text of the Black Wing Lory as well as references for this article:

Encyclopedia of the Lories, R. Low , page 207

Lories & Lorikeets, R. Low, page 51

Handbook of Lories, R. Sweeney , page 94 (bad picture)

Owners Manual of Lories, M. Vriends, page 57 (inaccurate picture)

Lories and Lorikeets in Aviculture , John Vanderhoof, page 47 (painting)

Out of all of these pictures, the painting by Gamini Ratnivera in John Vanderhoof’s book is the best I have seen, and it also shows a feather painting. Generally, most pictures in the above books are of young or poor quality specimens. The above mentioned books were also a source of information for this article.



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