The Chattering Lory is a member of the genus Lorius. The members of this genus is unmistakable: large, stocky lories with longish, broad tails. All species have green wings, and red predominates in the body plumage. In the Chattering lory, the mantle is a darker shade of red and is sometimes marked with a few yellow feathers. Wings and thighs are green. They are about 30cm in length, and weigh about 220g. The nominate race has no yellow feathers on the mantle.
The so-called Yellow-backed Chattering, L. g. flavopalliatus is distinguished by the usually large patch of yellow on the mantle and by the brighter green wings. Another subspecies is L.g morotaianus. This subspecies has a duller, less extensive yellow patch on the mantle and darker green wings than flavopalliatus.
They occur on the northern Moluccan islands, Indonesia. The nominate race is from Halmahera and the Wedi Islands; flavopalliatus is from Bacan and Obi. They are primarily forest inhabitants and canopy-dwellers, and are common in undisturbed primary forest on rich soil. It is nearly absent in forest close to habitation. Chattering lories are usually observed in pairs or small groups; the largest flock size seen was of 10 birds.
The chattering lory is classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List and listed on Appendix II of CITES.
Its conservation status is declining throughout its range, due to trapping and deforestation. Lambert et al, list all subspecies as endangered and give the threats to their existence as trade and deforestation. The lory has suffered the effects of trapping more than the Umbrella cockatoo. In addition to the export trade, the domestic trade for garrulous within Indonesia is quite substantial. The Chattering Lory has undergone dramatic declines due to habitat loss and human exploitation for the cage-bird trade. Reputedly a good talker with strong imitative abilities, this bird is one of the most important in domestic trade in Indonesia and amongst the most exported. Trapping pressure is very high, with a minimum of 9,600 individuals estimated to be caught in 1991. Before the 1990s, forests within this bird’s range were largely intact, but intensive logging has since taken its toll on the landscape, with the creation of logging roads greatly facilitating access for trappers, exacerbating this problem. Rosemary Low remarks that of 381 parrots of 19 species observed in markets there, 116 (30.5%) were Chatterings. Large scale trapping continues, and unless the illegal trade is controlled, this species is doomed. Instead of local people “consuming” large numbers of wild-caught birds as pets, (which probably have a short life-span) they must be shown how to breed from the birds which are available to them. A conservation education program is necessary to make them aware that they cannot continue to catch these lories; this is not a never-ending resource, but one that is being depleted rapidly. Will the fate of this species be similar to that of the Moluccan cockatoo, placed on Appendix I when it has nearly been trapped out of existence in the wild yet is still fairly common in our aviaries?
A true yellow is known, and occurs naturally in nature. Apparently this is a very beautiful bird, but I have been unable to find a picture of it.
They are very intelligent, talk extremely well and are very playful. Only bonded pairs can be kept together, although it has been observed that a pair bred within a mixed colony of birds. The Chattering Lory is large, playful, outgoing and, at times, mischievous. Chattering Lories are charming, clownish birds, but can also be feisty and aggressive at times. Like all lories, the Chattering Lory might be reserved around children, but overall they are fun and active pet birds. Supervise Chattering Lories during their out-of-cage time because they can become aggressive towards other birds and fearlessly go after another animal regardless of size.
Biting and screaming can be issues with Chattering Lories because they are hyperactive birds and will nip or let out a high pitched shrill. They can be aggressive toward anyone or other birds that they perceive as receiving more attention than themselves. Lories are susceptible to hemochromatosis (iron storage disease) and visceral gout. Chattering Lories need a low-protein and low-iron diet that consist largely of fruit and nectar. Due to nectar consumption, Chattering Lories create very liquid stools that make constant cleaning a must.
The Chattering Lory was formerly common in aviculture, but now it is also rapidly dwindling. In South Africa, they are still available, but not in abundance. The price of a pair is around R4 000.00, and the nominate species can fetch much more, but is virtually unknown in aviculture in South Africa.
Their lifespan under ideal conditions could be as long as 28-32 years. They achieve reproduction age at around three to three and a half years. A clutch will consist of two eggs, and the incubation time is 26 days. In the newly hatched chick, the down colour will be white or yellow. In a Yellow-backed Chattering, the down will always be yellow.
At ten days a few wisps of down are present, the feet turn black. At 16 days, pin feathers will appear, at 23 days, eyes are fully open. At 38 days, black, red and green quills will be apparent, at 53 days tail feathers will be 1 cm long, and at 60 days, 2 cm long. At 40 days the feathers have erupted and the black markings on the beak will be fading. At 5 months they can talk and imitate sounds quite well.
Chattering Lories are very easy to hand-rear with a spoon, (never tube feed, as this will traumatise them), and I use a mixture of Avi-plus Handrearing and Avi-plus Lorikeet Nectar. Their captive diet should consist partly of a good quality commercial or homemade nectar. They require lots of fruit in season as well as vegetables. I feed my lories their fruit and veggies once a day, and nectar three times daily. The nectar should be replaced regularly in warm weather. Their feeding bowls should be washed and disinfected at least once a day. I also feed my Chatterings some sprouted sunflower seeds. For more information about diet, see the article on Dusky lories in the August 2013 edition of Avizandum.
Housing for these lories should be large, because they are large birds. An aviary that is at least 4m long should be considered. I found suspended aviaries the most sensible for all lories, because they love to play on the bottom of the aviary, which they do not do in aviaries with a ground floor. If they are kept in a standing aviary, the bottom should be covered in cement with proper drainage so the cage can be cleaned regularly.
Because these birds are so intelligent and playful, enrichment in their environment is a necessity. They have to bathe daily. Provide lots of bird-safe (non-toxic and unsprayed) flowering branches for perching and chewing. Clean toys are also appreciated, especially something that can make a lot of noise. They love banging things about, and if they can bang their feeding bowls against each other, the food would soon be gone, but they love the noise it makes.
Their nest boxes could be a diagonal box (41cm x 21cm x 31cm). The entrance hole should be large enough as these are large stocky birds and won’t be able to squeeze through a small hole.
They are one of the most beautiful lories, and visitors unfamiliar with lories always admire them tremendously. As pets they are great, and I am currently raising a baby for a lady in Cape Town who used to have a Chattering Lory as a pet who died of old age. She tells me that her Chattering Lory ruled the household, chased the dogs, showered with everybody, and had an amazing vocabulary. When he died, it was a terrible time for them and they miss him tremendously. I can understand this, because I have enough experience with these lories and I know how entertaining they can be. I have a female with cataracts in both eyes, and she can see very little. Even so, she plays with her toys, loves different sounds, and is very lovable and tender towards me.
They are rewarding to keep, breed easily, and are a beauty to behold and hear!
1 Low, Rosemary, 1998, Hancock House Encyclopedia of the Lories.
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