Species group: Lories and Lorikeets
Other name(s): White-rumped Lory
AppearanceDetails: The sharp-dressed, eye-catching Dusky Lory is a confident parrot that attracts admirers because of its energy, personality, and beauty. Properly socialized birds have been trained to fly to anyone to solicit treats or attention, and these beautiful yet friendly avian clowns can be rewarding pets for the well-motivated, well-financed individual. Alas, they can be impractical for the average person, since they demand an expensive, high maintenance lifestyle. There are two color morphs that appear in nature – an orange and a yellow. The most common, the “Halloween” bird, has bright orange bands across the throat and breast. In the yellow morph, those bright bands are yellow instead of orange. Although even good authorities have used the word “phase” to describe these birds, they are not going through any phase, and a yellow bird will never grow out of it and turn orange, although Dusky Lories will develop a richer, deeper color as they get older. The yellow mutation appears to be a natural recessive trait, since two orange adults may have yellow youngsters.
Weight: 140 - 190 grams
Average size: 24 centimeters
Lifespan: 20 - 30 years
Diet: Feeding a Dusky 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.Dusky Lories eat more like soft-billed birds than parrots. They're 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 Dusky 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. However, if you are not certain that the pellet or mix is a low iron product intended for lories, don't even consider it. 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 Dusky Lory.
Housing: Housing the Dusky 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 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 Dusky 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. . Even though Dusky Lories don't have the strongest beaks going, they can be beaky and they can develop a tendency to become nippy. You should 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.
The unusual Dusky Lory is found in the Papua Islands, including the large island of New Guinea. This bold species is found in a variety of habitats from the lowlands up to mountains as high as 2,400 meters, and it's able to use anything from primary forest to urban gardens. The wandering flocks of 20 to 100 birds follow the flowering trees that provide its primary diet. A noisy communal roost may contain as many as 1,000 birds.
The Dusky Lory can make an intelligent, outgoing pet for the right person who can establish limits in a kind, respectful manner. Several authorities warn that they have a louder screech than the other popular lories like the Rainbow Lorikeet, and because their voice is higher-pitched, for some people, it can be more irritating. They are not recommended for apartments, especially if you have other pets or birds that will egg them on to get noisy.They can also be aggressive, and they may try to dominate you, your family members, or your other pets. They may be best for a family with no other pets, because they enjoy clowning around and being the center of attention, and they may actually try to chase or land on your other pets in a dominance display. While it's a thrill to have a Dusky Lory that flies to you on command, consider whether or not a wing-clipped Dusky might be more respectful of the other members of the family. Train the bird to step up on an arm or perch on command, so that taking your pet from cage to playgym or vice versa is an automatic action, instead of a power struggle. Like other lories, the Dusky may get beaky as it gets older, and it may actually give some painful bites when it's in breeding season. Learn to read your pet's moods, and be pro-active to disrupt the bird from nipping by filling that beak with a chew toy or another distraction. Written by Elaine Radford