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Duyvenbode Lory (Chalcopsitta duyvenbodei)

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Duyvenbode’s Lories are also sometimes called “Brown Lory”. This beautiful Lory is one of a kind. No other parrot has a colour scheme of rich brown, yellow and violet. The predominant colour is dark brown, which contrasts with the striking crescent of bright yellow extending from the loreds and encircling the lower mandible. Forehead, underwing coverts, bend of the wing and thighs are also bright yellow. The narrow, elongated feathers of the nape and the sides of the neck are dull yellow. Lower back, rump and under tail coverts are violet to deep blue. Breast feathers have the concealed part yellow. Primaries are black with a large yellow patch on the inner web, also on the adjoining two secondaries. Beak, cere, legs and skin surrounding the lower mandible are black. The iris is dark brown with an inner circle of pale yellow.

The average length of a Duyvenbode is 31 cm, its weight 200 to 230g, with up to 250g recorded in captive-bred birds. Males are generally large and bolder in appearance than females, with the head and beak larger, but visual sexing by people unfamiliar with the species is not recommended.

Natural History
Range: They are found in the Northern part of New Guinea, between Geelvink Bay in the west and Astrolobe Bay (Gogol River) in the east.
Habits: They are found in forest, tall secondary growth, lowland and hills up to 150m. It congregates at flowering trees with other lories and with honeyeaters and moves along the forest edge and other open habitats, and they roost socially. It has also been seen in Papua New Guinea.

Very little is known about the conservation status of this species, but observations by some naturalists have indicated that it is uncommon in its natural habitat, irregularly distributed and usually observed in pairs or groups of up to ten birds. It is listed as endangered, and conservation measures are certainly needed

Duyvenbode’s has always been one of my favourite lories. I find its colouration and its personality extremely attractive. They are by nature very tame and are one of the few lories who will not bite you as a matter of course. I have a pair that talks rather well, and says amongst other things, “How are you?” Apart from regular high-pitched screeches when paying, they also make soft gurgling sounds when they want to express their affection for you or for one another. I don’t find them aggressive with each other, and are usually very accommodating with their mate, or even another lory. Their personality are more like those of black lories that the other two members of the Chalcopsitta genus, the Yellow Streaked and Cardinals, who are very aggressive. If they have chicks with them in the cage, they will not breed again until the chicks have been removed. I find that they breed once, then I let the chick stay with the parents until it is at least six months old, as the chicks are timid in nature, and Duyvenbodes are delicate birds that needs as little stress as possible.

They are uncommon in captivity in South Africa, and their numbers have dwindled dramatically during the last decade. That happened mostly because breeders practised poor hygiene, and that is why I want to devote a section of this article to Bacterial Infections in Lories.

Due to their endangered status, any suitable specimen that cannot be released back into their natural habitat (native range) should preferably be placed into a well-managed breeding program to ensure the continued survival of this species.

Diet
Duyvenbode’s is primarily a nectar- and fruit eating species. In my experience it is less adventurous in its diet than the Yellow-Streaked, for example. Apple, pear, grapes*, banana and orange (and in the Canary Islands, cactus fruits and guavas) are readily eaten. Some will take fresh corn, others refuse it. I offered a dry food to one pair but they showed no interest in it. A liquid food, offered fresh twice daily preferably, should always be available.

Note: It is recommended not to feed more than one grape to a LARGE parrot a day, less for smaller birds. Some birds have developed renal failure because of grapes.

Breeding
I would recommend the purchase of young, unrelated captive bred birds, which have been DNA sexed, by anyone interested in breeding this species. If you find a pair, expect to pay anything upwards of R20 000.00 for them. Prior to breeding, they become noisier and males become slightly aggressive, threatening anyone in the vicinity by bobbing up and down with the wings held partly open. Females spend increasing periods in the nest but some females have the habit of leaving the nest when someone is in the vicinity. Unless the nest box is checked regularly the start of incubation could be missed. The clutch consists of two eggs which hatch after 24 to 26 days. Some females apparently do not incubate on the day the first egg is laid.

Newly hatched chicks weigh about 8g. They have quite long white down on the upper parts but are sparsely covered in other areas. The bill is dark brown with a white egg tooth. Young are ringed with 7.5mm rings at about 16 days. After the chicks are two weeks old, the nest litter will need to be changed frequently, at least once a week. Don’t use pine wood shavings as nesting material, as these give off poisonous oils.

The larger the wood chips the better, so the parents don’t feed them to the babies nor can the chicks accidentally ingest them. Other options for nesting material include shredded paper and dried grass.

The frequency of cleaning depends on how liquid the liquid food is. If this task is neglected, the parents are likely to pluck the young, and whether or not they are plucked the young will be very susceptible to chilling, leading to their death.

Pair of Brown Lorries

Pair of Brown Lorries

Hand-reared Young
It is not advisable to hand-rear single chicks intended for breeding, unless they can be placed with other young Chalcopsitta lories to mature. Young Duyvenbode’s easily become imprinted on the rearer. They are exceptionally affectionate and seem to crave human company, whether or not they are reared with other lories. Many are slower to become independent than lories of other genera. They might start to feed themselves at seven weeks and might be independent at nine weeks, or independence might take longer to attain. Much depends on the circumstances. They are much more sensitive and dependent than, for example, Trichoglossus species, and weaning them too early could have serious results.

Bacterial Infections in Lories
Bacterial infections are a major cause of death of captive lories. Species of bacteria most likely responsible are those of the genera Salmonella and Kliebsella, and also Escherichia coli. However, E. coli may be part of the normal intestinal flora and is not necessarily pathogenic. The main reasons why death from gram-negative bacterial infections is common in lories is because they are fed a liquid diet which often has a high content of simple sugars. In warm temperatures this is a perfect medium for the growth of bacteria. This is why the liquid food should be changed twice daily – or even three times in temperatures over 30°C. Lory cages and aviaries need cleaning more frequently than those of other parrot species. If this task is neglected, harmful bacteria will proliferate. We clean our lory cages at least once a week with a high pressure spray which doesn’t seem to bother the lories, indeed they love bathing in the spray. Feeding areas especially will have to be kept clean. Attention should be given to the opening to the food bowls so that the bird does not rub its head against a wire covered with lory nectar, seeing as they will clean one another and can ingest harmful bacteria in this way. If you notice nectar on the back of your lory’s head, increase the size of the opening to the food bowl.

Salmonellosis is the most serious disease from the viewpoint of a lory keeper in a warmer climate. It will usually make itself known in summer. Because affected birds seldom show abnormal behaviour until a few hours before death, treatment usually comes too late. If birds are not inspected several times daily, nothing abnormal will be noticed and losses could result. Poor breeding results, and death of adults and chicks, should always be investigated by an avian veterinarian. There is a high possibility that gram-negative bacteria are responsible. Nestboxes should be cleaned and disinfected regularly.

It must be realised that bacteria are found naturally in most living organisms, internally and externally. The type depends on the species. The normal intestinal flora of parrots is made up predominantly of a group known as gram positive, such as lactobacillus, staphylococcus and streptococcus. These bacteria usually takes several weeks to colonise the tracts of newly hatched chicks. Chicks hatched from the egg should be fed a tiny bit of yoghurt with their food. The natural intestinal flora aid in the digestion of food which the bird itself cannot digest, and protect against the colonisation of harmful bacteria such as those mentioned above, and also Pseudonomas. It must be remembered that treatment with antibiotics also kills the natural intestinal flora, and thus weakens the immune system. Antibiotics should never be given on a prophylactic basis or given at a greater strength than that recommended by a veterinarian.

Probiotics are said to counteract the harmful effects of antibiotics by replacing the natural flora. Different kinds of probiotics vary in their efficacy. Frankly, some appear to be useless. However, it is much easier to administer them to lories than to other parrots as they can be added to the nectar at the recommended dosage.

Contamination from E.coli, and to a lesser extent Salmonella, usually results from transfer by a human to birds, thus thorough hand washing is essential to protect your birds from these organisms. Additionally, cleanliness of cages and food dishes (particularly with Salmonella) is essential. Baytril (enroflaxin) made by Bayer, is very widely used by veterinarians worldwide for treating bacterial infections, and I have found it to be highly effective.

If you havent seen a Duyvenbode lory before, try to do so. They are beautiful to behold, in fact my late mother said that they were, to her, the most beautiful of all the lories. Apart from their outer beauty, their lovely lively and intelligent characteristics make them a joy to keep and to breed.

If you have any questions regarding your lories, you are welcome to contact the me at the following email address: pixeltjie@gmail.com

Brown Lory (Chalcopsitta duivenbodei)

Brown Lory (Chalcopsitta duivenbodei)

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