Because of time constraints, a local fancier asked me to sell his collection of Lories. He brought over three surgically sexed pairs:one pair of Yellow Backed Chattering Lories, one pair of Red Lories, and one pair of Rainbow lories. Their striking colors and exuberant personalities fascinated me. Deciding to keep them, I housed each pair in a 30″ square welded wire cage.
Researching their diets was a confusing experience. Each book and fancier proposed a totally different menu. All agreed that in the natural state lories consume mostly nectar and pollen. This divides the diet fairly evenly into a carbohydrate component and a protein component. Lories also eat a wide variety of other items. Greens, fruits, and insects abound in the tropical jungle.
Various dry products are being sold as complete diets for Lories. These birds normally ingest large amounts of liquid. I was concerned that their metabolism would be upset by a completely dry diet. Even if this does not occur immediately, there might be some problem in the future.
A successful breeder is using a gruel that contains dry dog food and evaporated milk, in addition to honey and pulverized fruit. I feel that the protein and sugar foods, as in the wild, should not be mixed. Also, this mix can spoil rapidly in the heat and humidity of Summer.
I finally decided to maintain the birds on a four part diet. We make a fresh, pollen based dry diet. This is in a dish at all times. I investigated several nectar formulas. They all call for laboriously mashing fruit and mixing it with water and corn syrup. Supermarkets have, for human consumption, fruit nectars with the same ingredients. These nectars come in small, easily opened cans. These are just as good for Lories as any “home brew” concoctions, and no preparation is necessary. The birds have this nectar before them constantly. I experimented with several fruit varieties. Strangely, my birds dislike the tropical fruit nectars:mango, papaya, and guava. These Lories prefer pear, peach and apricot nectars. I am using Goya brand. A dish of mixed fruit, vegetables, greens, sprouts, nestling food, and soaked seed is put in daily. Every morning the birds are given five mealworms each. The Reds and Rainbows devour them ravenously; the Yellow backs ignore the grubs. Interestingly enough, using their tongues, they sometimes extract all meat from the inside of the mealworms, leaving the skin intact
The birds also have water with vitamins in the cage all the time. They drink very little water, but I consider it best to be available.
The birds soon caused problems with their dishes. As soon as the dry diet, water, mealworms, nectar, and fresh foods were placed in the cage, the Lories would playfully toss the dishes about the cage. I was kept constantly busy replacing their food and water. Replacing the dishes with the new bird proof stainless steel cup solved most of the problems. Soon the birds started to bathe in the water and in the nectar! Their constant preening kept the plumage immaculate, but I was certain that the nectar would do the most good if taken internally rather than externally. The nectar and water is now given in gravity flow guinea pig bottles. The lories learned immediately to use the laboratory drinkers. The water and nectar is now kept from being fouled by the birds.