FEEDING LORIES

Margrethe Warden

 

There are probably as many ways to feed lories as there are people feeding them. While there is no absolute one way to feed them there are some guidelines that can make the diet quandary easier.

Lories are physiologically different than other parrots and are designed to consume a diet of nectar, pollen, fruit, bugs, small lizards and such. Their brush tongue is perfectly suited to the gathering of this nectar and pollen. Their ventriculous, or gizzard, is less muscular than that of other parrots therefore they should not eat the type of hard, dry diet we feed our other parrots.

NECTAR  Most lory owners and breeders have found that the birds are healthier, happier and longer lived when they have nectar in their diet. There are several commercial products on the market designed specifically for lories. Two of the most popular commercial lory diets available in the U.S. are Blessing's and Lory Life. These products are available in both a powder form intended to be offered dry and a mix that with water added makes a nectar. The powder and nectar are nutritionally equal however the ingredients in the nectar mixes are all water-soluble. Both these diets have been around for quite some time and have been used extensively on flocks of lories for several generations. If a commercial nectar or powder is used in your your lory’s diet, there is no need to worry about adding vitamin or mineral supplements

FRUITS & VEGETABLES   While commercial products are considered to be "total nutrition" your birds will greatly benefit from the added nutrients of a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. Some of the best items to offer a lory are papaya, cantaloupe, mango, pears, apples, sweet potatoes, carrots, broccoli, squash-summer and winter, bell pepper, jalapeno peppers, dark leafy greens such as kale, green beans, berries, grapes, figs,  and peas. Cooking foods destroys many of the nutrients so these food should be served fresh, the exception being sweet potatoes. Because of their natural curiosity, most lories will accept new diets readily. Fresh foods can be given in a chopped mix. If the bird seems to reject the chopped fresh foods, try pureeing the fruit and even the veggies and adding it to the nectar. Remember, VARIETY is essential.

SPROUTS   Freshly sprouted seeds are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, protein, enzymes and antioxidants. When seed begin to sprout they are at their peak nutritional level and they are easy to digest. Because they are soft, they are suitable for lory consumption. Avoid sprouts purchased in the store as they my be older and less nutritious and they can contain harmful levels of E. coli. Seeds & beans to include in your sprout mix are: sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, mung beans, wheat berries, lentil, adzuka beans and corn.

THE PELLET ISSUE   Pellet manufacturers have realized the benefit of marketing species specific diets and in doing so have jumped on the lory bandwagon. Vets often recommend a totally pelleted diet for feeding caged birds and those who do will generally recommend them for lories as well. The commercial diets Lory Life and Blessing's were formulated with the nutritional needs of lories in mind and extensively tested on large numbers of lories before being made available to the public. It is apparent that the same efforts have NOT been made on behalf of the pelleted lory diets. These pelleted diets seem to advertise that in feeding them the lory droppings will be much firmer and will therefore eliminate some of the mess associated with keeping lories. Clearly they are designed for the consumer who looks for convenience and ease when feeding lories, not for the welfare and benefit of the birds themselves. Most experienced lory keepers will recommend that pellets be omitted from your lory’s diet. Pellets can be too high in iron, protein and vitamin A to be safely fed as part of the maintenance diet. Additionally, the continuous feeding of a dry, pelleted diet can cause irreparable damage to the papillae on the tongue.

HOMEMADE DIETS  Over the years a  number of recipes for lory diets have surfaced. Many of them consist primarily of baby cereal and fructose and almost always include other dry ingredients as well. Unless you are well versed in the area of nutrition and can develop your own well balanced, nutritious lory diet, it's best to avoid the home made mixes. Many of these can be too high in protein, iron and fat while being deficient in other vitamins and minerals. The availability and cost of commercial lory food make diet creation unnecessary and are more cost effective than hunting down the ingredients yourself. This is not to say that you cannot exercise some creativity when feeding your lory.  Many lories enjoy fresh fruit "nectar" which can be made by pureeing several different types of fruit (and even a veggie or two) together to make a thick fruit smoothie. A batch can be made and frozen into single serving portions. When mixing up nectar, many owners add fruit juice and/or pureed fruit to it. 

FRESH WATER  Fresh, clean water is essential to the health of any bird. Be sure to provide plenty of it and change it daily. Lories can adapt to water bottles, however, they should be changed daily and the stoppers cleaned and disinfected frequently.

FOODS TO AVOID   Human food with preservatives and added iron (ferrous sulfate) such as canned fruit, non organic baby foods and nectar drinks intended for human consumption; chocolate; products with caffeine such as coffee, tea and soft drinks, alcohol, eggplant and the stems and leaves or tomato plants which can contain toxic levels of solanine and alkaloids that can effect calcium absorption; corn, while not toxic is full of sugar and carbs which can help bring on obesity in your bird if fed in large quantities; mushrooms; the pits of Prunus species (peach, apricot, cherry, plum); tobacco.

 

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