Keeping and Breeding Whiskered Lorikeets
Courtesy of Kristian Schack Jensen
The first time I saw this little lorikeet was in 1996 at the aviaries of a Belgian lori-keeper. This little bird won my heart at once but the price and my doubts of being able to keep them alive did that I refused to buy a pair at that time. But I never forgot my first impression of that very beautiful bird. And when I in the end of 1998 got the opportunity I bought a pair from Jos Hubers, a year later a single female from a German breeder and a pair from birdpark Walsrode. It is with these 5 birds that my experiences until date has been made. The following pages is not a story of long time breeding success, but I will describe how I until today have managed my whiskered lorikeets and I will also try to point at the problems I have had with the birds in the 2 years I have had whiskered in my collection.
My lories are housed inside all year around, mostly because i keep small species which are more delicate than the larger ones. Secondly because it is simply the only way that I can have them at the place where I live. I would like that my birds have a small aviary where they could fly out when the weather is good. In Denmark the weather in summer is very varying with much rain and also cold nights, so keeping smaller species outside is often not successful.
The cages which I keep my whiskered in is 2m long, 1 m wide and 1 m high. The whiskered lorikeet is a very active bird, so you first get the right impression of the birds if they have lot of space. Keeping them in small cages will not give the correct impression of the bird and you will not se them play like in a larger aviary.
The ground of my cages is covered with sawdust and often i cover the floor in the cages with moss which I collect in a forest nearby where I live. I provide many thick and thin branches and replace them regularly. Especially very thin branches where they climb around are beloved.
The first pair I obtained were bought from Jos Hubers in October 1998. They where offered an horizontal nestbox with the dimensions 20 cm x 10 cm x 10 cm and an entrancehole on 4 cm. In a few weeks they started to sleep in the nestbox. The pair was very harmonic and did everything together. They soon got very beautiful and in perfect condition. In January 1999 I observed that the pair spend a lot of time in the nestbox, cleaning the nestbox of the wood shavings that I have provided. Soon there where two small white eggs and the birds was not disturbed when I controlled the nestbox. One egg hatched after 22 days. The other egg was removed after another 10 days and it contained a large chick that was dead just before it should have been hatched. The young trived well and after approximately 40 days it left the nestbox. The young looked like the female, just with a little red band at the front of the crone. After 3 weeks i removed the young from the parents. The bird became a female. This was the first young of whiskered lorikeet breed in Denmark.
Nearly the same day as I removed the young bird from its parents, the female died. This was a very sad day. It was very long time ago since I had lost a bird and of course it had to be the female. But it was my own fault. Close to their cage I had a kind of curtain to protect the wall from the birds liquid feces. But buy a mistake the birds could reach it and they gnawed in it with the result that the female have swallowed some fibers and died from digestion trouble.
As soon as possible I bought a single female from a German breeder and a young pair from birdpark Walsrode. After I have tried different combinations between my birds and the newly bought birds the result was as follows: My old male got the female from Walsrode and the young male from Walsrode got the female that I have breed. These two combinations seemed to trive well.
We now write 2000 and it was again my old male and his new female that started breeding. They laid two eggs but they where not fertile so I removed them. After a month they laid again two eggs and both where fertile. Again one young hatched and the other one was dead just before hatching. This young became a male.
At the same time the other pair laid two eggs which they reared for 10 days. Then suddenly the eggs disappeared, and I believe that the birds ate them. They soon laid another clutch which they reared for 15 days, both where fertile also those eggs disappeared. So my dream about several young whiskered in my aviaries was not fulfilled this year maybe next year. But two pairs has showed that they want to breed, so I am very confident with the future. I have got some knowledge about the birds and I have formed a third pair with the young male from this year and my single female.
Taking into account the small size of the whiskered lorikeet and compare them with the needs of feeding of other small lorikeets they seems to be very similar. Small lorikeets need a diet which is low in protein and with a lot of carbohydrates. The food also needs to be very liquid otherwise they will refuse to eat it. If they do they often flick in there beaks with the food. I have tried several readymade foods but I never had great success with them to smaller lorikeets. Only a special mark for sunbirds have been successful as alone food, but the food is very expensive, so I feed my birds with my the one diet which I think is quite simple and could be varied throughout the year with different fruits. As many other breeders I have my own liquid food and it contains following ingredients:
For one liter of food:
- 1 large tablespoon Cede`lorifood2 large tablespoon boiled apple or pear1 normal-sized carrot2 tablespoon white sugar or honey or food for sunbirds1 teaspoon soyabeansand Nekton S 3 times a week.
The food is easily prepared : Mix together the fruit and the soyabeans, put the other ingredients in and stir them together. Fill up with cold water until one liter.
This food is the basisfood for my whiskered lorikeets but sometimes I also put in small amounts of other fruits or vegetables, but always the ingredients mentioned above. Other fruits or vegetable could be blackberries, banana, cabbage, or whatever you have. I think it is important with a little change in the diet now and then. The reason why i use boiled apple or pear is that the food do not settle so quickly as if it was not used. It is also very good food, which I pluck in my garden and freeze in when it is boiled.
When the whiskered have laid eggs I also offer them a dryfood of equal parts of pollen and oatmeal and a squeeze of calcium. They eat some dryfood when they have young’s. One of the things that have fascinated me with the whiskered is there eager for greenfood. It is always the first food they through them over when feed. They can eat large quantities greenfood of various sorts. In spring and summer I use dandelion and chickweed in late autumn and winter I normally buy salad. I believe that the whiskered have a large demand for greenfood and it is important to give it nearly every day.
The greenfood is never mixed with the liquid food because the birds spend a lot of time eating the food. You need to give the birds something to occupy them with, and because I never use fruit in pieces then the greenfood need to fulfill some of these demands. In autumn I often pluck grassseed which is hung up in the roof of the aviary. The whiskered eat some of the seed not in large quantities but although they certainly eat seed. When grassseed is not available I use normal seedmix as used for small seedeating birds. It is often discussed ob lories need seed but if they want to eat just a little amount I give it to them.
The whiskered lorikeets has won my heart, It is a very small bird but is always very confident and often come to take small pieces of ex. salad from your fingers. With the knowledge I have until now there are no problems keeping the whiskered in captivity. I hope with the things that I mentioned that more people want to keep this little bird and with the knowledge that are available from different breeders it should not become a problem. But numbers are low in captivity so we need to have good breeding results if we shall keep this little specie in our aviaries. It would be a disaster if it disappears.
If there are things that you want to discuss about the whiskered lorikeet, then please contact: Kristian Schack Jensen directly.
Other Relevant Web Resources
- Photos of the Different Lory Species for Identification ... Listing of Species
- Distribution Maps of Lories and Lorikeets
- Lories and Lorikeets in Aviculture
- Feeding and Housing Your Lories and Lorikeets
- Diseases of Lories / Lorikeets and Health Care Program
- Special Challenges of Lories and Lorikeets: Training and Behavioral Guidance
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