The Red Lory From a Pet Owners’ Perspective

Mary Chinnici

Neptune, NJ


 With the possible exception of the green-naped, red lories are perhaps the most commonly available lory species for the pet trade. Many fellow owners will no doubt share some of my observations of the last eight or so years of my two female reds. The older of the two is a Buru, the younger, a Moluccan, and they are approximately 9 and 7 years old. I have watched them undergo changes over the years, but for the most part, they have very distinctly different personalities and traits. Whether these differences are determined by the difference of their sub species or an individual thing, I can’t say for sure. My Buru, smaller and darker in color than the Moluccan, is very reserved, watchful, sneaky, and not easily riled. She is very calm and independent and not the bundle of energy that one thinks of when they think of a lory. She will often sit quietly in her cage with the door open for hours. She plays, but not as often or with the reckless abandon that typifies my Moluccan and most other lories. She is most un-lory like in that she is a very neat eater, and for the most part, does not flick her nectar everywhere. My husband is her preferred human and she will gallantly defend him from me at every turn.

My Moluccan typifies the behavior of most lories with a seeming zest for life, and incredible enthusiasm for everything. She’s a tornado when eating anything, and playing is a serious all out affair. She seldom has more than two intact tail feathers. I am her favorite human and she follows me like a shadow. Both birds speak words and phrases though I wouldn’t consider them particularly gifted in that department. The Moluccan says more things than the Buru, and both say most things fairly clearly, but the Buru is a magnificent whistler and imitator of sound effects. The Buru is the quieter if the two, but neither bird is particularly loud, though they do have their moments, usually during something I want to see on TV. Both birds are frequent (almost daily) and enthusiastic bathers, and both participate in the practice of "anting" afterward, the Buru with a mineral stone, the Moluccan with eucalyptus pods. They meticulously chip off small pieces of their respective materials and apply it to their bodies, another common lory trait.  

Eating habits between the two are very similar. Both adore their main diet of liquid nectar above all else, with corn and broccoli playing a close second (human junk food not withstanding). Fruit is either played with or ignored, with the exception of an apple wedge. Both birds like to snuggle with their respective humans for a nap but the similarities in sleeping habits end there. Upon retiring for the evening, the Moluccan can be seen hanging upside down from the top of her cage. The Buru is tucked safely inside her beloved nest box shredding paper to her hearts’ content until she falls asleep. It was in that nest box that she surprised us with her first egg at 7 years of age. The Moluccan, at 6 years of age, has yet to lay.

Reds have the reputation of being the most likely feather pluckers of the lories, something I didn’t really believe until about a year ago. The Moluccan plucked her leg feathers bare while she was being watched by my parents one weekend but we believed it to be a one time freak occurrence—until now. We began to notice tiny blood feathers on the cage bottom and bare patches under the wings. We tried several things, and whether it was any of those things or just coincidence that she stopped, we’ll probably never know. She does however, go through occasional cycles of letting feathers grow completely back for some time, and then some minor pulling. The Buru had never plucked as much as one feather until we discovered a small bare spot at the base of the tail, and upon inspection of the nest box in which she sleeps at night, some small blood feathers. We suspect she picked up the habit from the Moluccan but can’t be sure. Anti feather picking spray applied before bed time has pretty much solved the problem and feathers are almost completely grown back.

All in all, I love the reds as pets, and would gladly get another if the situation were right. When people see my Reds, their first comment is on their striking red color. Along with their personalities, they make us take notice. I suppose that those two things more than anything else are what drew my husband and me to purchasing the amusing and beautiful bird that jumped on his finger more than eight years ago. We were sold right there and then. We didn’t know much about parrots, and had never heard of a lory, but we’ve learned a lot since that fateful day, and have loved every minute (well almost) of owning our two reds. Sure they can be messy, as with any bird, and there is the occasional painful bite, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. They are wonderful companions and have truly enriched our lives.