What are Lories and Lorikeets?



Lories and lorikeets are birds of the Parrot family, subfamily Loriinae. They are medium sized parrots with an average size of 22 to 33 centimetres and weigh from 70 to 200 grams. They have a life span usually in the range of 25 to 35 years with many living to over forty years and are some of the most beautiful birds in the world with brightly coloured attractive plumage. They are a very intelligent species of parrot with many learning to talk and mimic many sounds, and they have been called the clowns of the parrot world because of their outgoing friendly personality, gregarious and inquisitive nature.

Also known as brushed-tongued parrots, lories and lorikeets are nectarivorous (nectar eating) birds feeding mainly on pollen, nectar and fruit juices. It is this that makes them different from most other parrots that are seed eaters. They have a specially designed tongue with a brush like end (actually papillae covering the end portion of the tongue) to make collecting their food easier, as they need to reach right into flowers to get to pollen and nectar.
There are no lories or lorikeets that are native to New Zealand, all have been imported at some time. There are currently no bird (avian) imports allowed into New Zealand, we can export but not import.
A Native New Zealand bird, the Tui, also is nectarivorous although this is not a parrot.

What is the difference between a Lory and a Lorikeet?


The main difference is simply in the length and shape of their tails.
A lorikeet, for example the Rainbow lorikeets pictured below left, have long thin tails, whereas a lory, for example the Yellow-bibbed lory pictured below right, has a wider shorter tail.
The names Lory and Lorikeet are often used to mean both types of bird and, for example, in Australia, all are usually referred to as Lorikeets.
As different people have contributed to this web site the names are often used to mean both types, most often all are called lories.
Note the brightly coloured plumage of these birds, this is one of their main attractions to many people.

Rainbow lorikeets.

Yellow-bibbed lory.

Where do Lories and Lorikeets come from?


They are a tropical bird able to withstand a wide range of temperature variation coming from many tropical parts of the world but mostly from New Guinea, Indonesia, Australia and various islands in the South Pacific.

The Oceania map below shows the area that 53 known lories and lorikeets originate from (note: none from New Zealand)

Oceania map by Denis Lepage


Below is a list of the known lories and lorikeets and where each originates - refer to the Oceania map above.
Note that some have articles and photographs available via links to other web locations

Lories and Lorikeets


Black Capped lory - New Guinea
Black Winged lory - Indonesia
Blue-streaked lory - Indonesia
Cardinal lory - Solomon Islands
Chattering lory and Yellow-backed lory - Indonesia Northern Moluccas Islands
Duyvenbode's lory - Northern New Guinea
Edwards lorikeet - Indonesia - Timor Island
Emerald lorikeet - Irian Jaya and central mountain borders of Papua New Guinea.
Fairy lorikeet- New Guinea in the mountainous areas
Dusky lory - New Guinea
Forsten's lorikeet - Indonesia Sumbawa Islands
Red lory (also known as Moluccan lory) Indonesia
Goldie's lorikeet - New Guinea central mountainous part from Weyland Mountains to South Eastern Papua New Guinea.
Green Naped lorikeet - New Guinea and the Indonesia islands
Iris lorikeet - Indonesia Timor and Wetar Islands
Josephine's lorikeets - New Guinea
Little lorikeet - Eastern and South-eastern Australia from North Queensland to South Australia sometimes reaching to North-East Tasmania.
Massenna's lorikeet - Solomon Islands - New Guinea - New Hebrides - Archipelago
Meyer's lorikeet - Indonesia
Mitchell's lorikeet - Indonesia Islands of Bali
Musk lorikeet Musk lorikeet - East and South-east Australia to South Australia Spencer Gulf Region. Also In Tasmania eastern half. Becoming very popular in New Zealand aviaries, make great pets if handreared. Colour mutations can include olive & mustard
Musschenbroek's lorikeet - Mountainous areas of Central New Guinea.
Obi Violet-Necked lory - Indonesia
Ornate lorikeet- Indonesia
Perfect lorikeet - Indonesia
Purple Bellied lory - South East New Guinea
Purple-crowned lorikeet - Extreme Southern Australia to as far north as southern Queensland.
Purple Capped lory - Indonesia - Ceram
Rajah lory - Western New Guinea
Red-collared lorikeet - Northern Australia from Kimberley division of Western Australia east to Queensland. Mutations can include Olive - ( grey/green)
Red Spotted lorikeet - North West New Guinea - Indonesia in the Islands of Biak.
Rosenburg's lorikeet - Indonesia the island of Biak
Scaly-breasted - North Eastern Australia. Very affordable to the pocket makes a great pet. Colour mutations can include normal green, olive - (grey/green) cinnamon , yellow, mustard and lutino.
Stella's lorikeet - New Guinea This is one lorikeet specie where the male or female can be a black in colour called melanism or Red in colour . The female is distinguished by her red flanks.
Striated lorikeet - Western New Guniea.
Swainsons lorikeet - (also known as the Blue Mountain or Rainbow lorikeet) Eastern Australia from Cape York Peninsula South to Tasmania and Kangaroo Island also introduced to the Perth area, Western Australia. Very Common in NZ refer to the article section "Rainbow lorikeet saga in New Zealand" giving different objectives on the so called problem we have here in New Zealand. Mutations can include Olive (grey/green) and Lutino.
another link about Rainbows - Burkes back Yard
Tahiti Blue lory- Pacific rim Society Islands - Cook Islands. Very rare in Agriculture
Ultramarine lory - If I had one wish this is what I would wish for. Weighs in at 35 grams. Are special treasure of nature. Feathers are pale blue, dark blue, fluro blue and white. Very very rare.
Varied lorikeet- Western and Northern Australia common in wooded country especially like to be near water.
Violet Necked lory - Indonesia
Weber's lorikeet- Indonesia Timor Islands
Wilhelmina's lorikeet - Central Highlands of New Guniea (This is one of the smallest lorikeets weighing in at only 20grams they are very rare.
Yellow-bibbed lory - Solomon Islands
Yellow Streaked lory - Southern New Guinea Aru Islands.

What Lories and Lorikeets are available in New Zealand?


Recently several Lory-Link members asked this very question to try and establish what we had as breeding stock in New Zealand. Since no avian imports have been allowed into New Zealand for the last number of years and it appears this situation will not change for the forseeable future, it is highly unlikely we will see any new varieties of lory or lorikeet for some time into the future (notwithstanding illegal imports). The present silly attitude that the government (Dept of Conservation) has concerning Rainbow lorikeets makes the likelihood of parrot imports in the future even more remote.
Furthermore it appears that there is a very limited number of lory breeders and breeding pairs of lories in New Zealand. It is estimated the number of breeders is between 25 and 35 and actual breeding pairs of lories is no more than 150. The total population of captive lories is thought to be no more than two to three thousand with any wild populations being insignificant.


The results of enquiries and reviewing the availability of lories and lorikeets from breeders provided the following list (excludes lories in zoos although no other varieties outside the list below are known to be in their collections)


Rainbow lorikeet, well established, Olive variety less common but available
Musk lorikeet, well established
Scaly lorikeet, Green and Olive well established, yellow and cinnamon mutations much less common
Red-collared lorikeet, well established
Yellow-bibbed lory, reasonably well established
Massena's lorikeet, several breeding pairs known, available
Blue-streaked lorikeet, several breeding pairs known, very few available
Green-naped lorikeet, several breeding pairs known, available
Black-winged lory, number of breeding pairs unknown, few available
Yellow-backed lory, several breeding pairs known, very few available
Yellow-streaked lory, unknown, but apparently available
Edwards lorikeet, few, no breeding pairs known, not available
Goldie's lorikeet, few, but available from breeders
Cardinal lory, several pairs known, seldom available
Black-capped lory, only one pair known, not available
Purple-crowned lorikeet, only two cock birds known, not available
Varied lorikeet, only one hen bird known, not available

Yellow Scaly, Yellow-bibbed,
Musk and Red-collared lories


The following may exist in New Zealand but are unconfirmed and none have been made available for sale.

Dusky lory
Chattering lory (not the Yellow-backed lory - see list above)
Little lorikeet
Violet-necked lory
Red lory


Although the Red-collared and Musk lorikeet olive mutations (or more correctly Grey-Green mutation), are fairly common in Australia they are relatively unknown in New Zealand. Several NZ breeders are currently working to establish these mutations.
Scaly lorikeet yellow (dilute), lutino and cinnamon mutations along with Rainbow lorikeet Grey-green (Olive) mutations have been available for some time but are still reasonably rare as they have never become well established.
Almost all of the new colourful mutations of lorikeets recently developed in Australia are still non-existant in New Zealand. One local breeder is known to be trying to produce the lutino Rainbow lorikeet, so far without success.


From this list it can be seen there is a pitiful small variety of lories and lorikeets available in New Zealand. The Australian types are most common and most easily available and others, apart from the Yellow-bibbed non-Australian lory, are just not established in any meaningful numbers. With such a few breeding stock for these less common lories and no imports of new blood for the forseeable future it may not be possible to establish these in New Zealand. This applies more so to the rarest examples, Black-capped lory, Edwards lorikeet and perhaps the Chattering lory (One breeder at the 2001 Down Under Parrot conference held in June 2001, Auckland, NZ, insists that Chattering lories do not exist in NZ and that all birds so identified are actually Yellow-backed lories - a pair obtained in mid 2001 described as Chattering lories were in fact the Yellow-backed variety).
A recent outbreak of PBFD (Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease) in mid to late 2000 took out some breeding pairs of less well established lories with at least four breeding pairs of Blue-streaks being lost. Others affected by this outbreak included Yellow-bibbed lories, Musk, Rainbow and Scaly lorikeets, in all several dozen birds were lost although the actual number could be much higher since some breeders did not want to disclose they experienced PBFD problems.


All of the well established types are normally available from pet stores or can be easily obtained from local breeders. Rainbow lorikeets are by far the most popular and most pet stores will easily be able to source these.
Close behind in popularity is the Scaly lorikeet and then the Musk lorikeet.
These three types seem to available all year and can be obtained without too much difficulty.
Red-collared lorikeets and Yellow-bibbed lories are more difficult to obtain, they seldom appear in pet stores, but breeders almost always have young birds available. Pairs of Yellow-bibs are near impossible to find, but quite often Red-collars are sold as young pairs.
There has been some difficulty in sourcing Yellow-bibbed lory cock birds for the last two years (maybe longer) as all available young birds are hens. It is not known why this situation has arisen (are all cocks being exported?) but it is still an ongoing problem for those wanting to acquire a pair.
The situation with Red-collars is improving while they maintain a good sale value and since they can start breeding at about two years old there are more breeding pairs starting every year. There appears to be more young birds becoming avialbale for sale locally.
Although there are quite a few pairs of Yellow-bibs with breeders, it seems very few are actually successfully breeding. Pairs generally do not start to breed until three to four years old. There is also a well known egg breaking problem with boisterous cock birds that can delay and reduce the success of producing young Yellow-bibs.
The situation with Blue-streaked lories looked promising in 1999/2000 as a dozen or so birds were made available for sale and at least three breeders obtained unrelated pairs of young birds from these. It will probably be 2003 before any new Blue-streaks are bred from them.
Of five proven breeding pairs known in 1999, four of these plus at least six young birds were lost to a PBFD outbreak in mid to late 2000. It appears that no Blue-streaks were made available for sale in 2001 although it is hoped this situation will change in 2002/2003.


Those of unknown or few-in-number status will generally only be available from one or two breeders in New Zealand. Even then it may not be possible to purchase birds as more than a few breeders prefer not to provide potential breeding stock to other breeders or people who could become lory breeders. This action results in many young birds being exported from New Zealand and reduces even further the chances of less common lories becoming established in New Zealand. It also keeps the selling price of such birds quite high because of their rarity. A similar situation occurs with uncommon mutations of well established types and again breeders seem to prefer exporting instead of selling within New Zealand.


A quick poll of about twenty breeders with breeding pairs of red-collared lorikeets shows that over 66% of all young birds produced in the year 2001 were exported. An estimate of the total young red-collars produced in 2001 in New Zealand is 72.
Of all the pet shops/stores in the Auckland area of New Zealand that sold lorikeets in 2001 it appears that only six red-collars were made available to them for sale. At least a further twenty were offered for sale privately.

In 2002 there appears to be no more than six breeders in New Zealand with Yellow-bibbed lories that actually produce young birds. There are at least another ten breeders with pairs that are not yet breeding. An estimate of the number of young birds made available for sale in 2001 is twelve. Midway through 2002 and only six young yellow-bibs have been available for sale.
It is believed that no yellow-bibs were exported in 2001/2 and there may have been no exports as far back as 1996.
The total New Zealand population of Yellow-bibs is thought to be no more than eighty and is probably closer to sixty. At least ten yellow bibs were lost in a PBFD outbreak in late 2000, including several breeding pairs.

By early 2004 the situation with Red-collars has greatly improved and these are now quite common and easy to obtain. Many are exported from New Zealand. Anothertype of Rainbow, the Massenas lorikeet is also becoming available although it is still not very common. There are still almost none of the rarer breeds available such as Yellow-backed chattering lories, Blue-streaks, Dusky, Cardinal, and Red lories. Very few Yellow-bibs have been available.


If you live in New Zealand and are aware of other types of lories resident here either as pets or breeding pairs perhaps with young birds available or coming available then please let us know (see CONTACT below). We would like to try and keep the information on availability and status of lories in New Zealand up to date.

What do Lories and Lorikeets eat?


In the wild they feed on the pollen and nectar produced by flowering trees, shrubs and fruit trees.
lorikeets also like to eat fruit such as apples and pears and this is a main part of there diet especially in captivity along with special wet mix recipes to replace the pollen and nectar they would normally collect and eat in the wild.
Unlike many other parrots, lories and lorikeets cannot be fed on a seed based e diet. They do occasionally enjoy soaked seeds and will crunch the seeds they find in fruit but their digestive system is incapable of handling a mostly seed diet since it is designed to deal with liquid nectar and juice they obtain from crushing flowers and fruit.
For more detail on feeding lories and recipes for wet-mixes (nectar replacements) and dry-mixes (pollen replacements), along with information on suitable fruits and vegetables look at the FEEDING area on this web site.

Do they make good pets?


Lories and lorikeets make excellent pets although there are some factors that need to be taken into account when making a decision to get one for a pet.
A lory will tend to bond to one human and this adoption of a human is a main attraction for some lory owners. If the lory is obtained while still quite young then this bonding occurs quite quickly. An older lory may take some time to trust a particular human but will nearly always select its owner to bond to. Hand raised baby lories are the easiest to work with since they will already be familiar with being handled and will have built up a trust with humans.
A new lory will always be quite shy and until it becomes familiar with its new home, humans and surrroundings it will tend to be quiet (reasonably!) and shy away from most people. If it does bond quickly to its owner and it is a young bird then it may give the impression of trying to hide or thats its afraid and is trying to get as close as possible by geting under hair or clothing on its human. It will eventually grow out of this behaviour but will still look forward to and enjoy play with and being on its human.
A lory loves to perch on it's human's shoulder, play nibble at ears, eyebrows, get in behind hair, preen hair, remove and play with glasses/sunglasses, play with jewellry on ears and hairbands, and sometimes just go asleep perched on a shoulder.


Since lories are quite intelligent birds they need almost constant stimulation to prevent boredom. A bored lory can become quite miserable and this can result in behavioural problems which can include biting humans, plucking its own feathers, refusing to eat or other strange behaviour.


The best companion for a lory is another lory as they will play together and seldom will one become bored. But where it is impractical to have two or more birds then the lone bird will need lots of attention and time spent playing with its human. Toys in the cage or aviary will help and everything from lots of perches, hanging ropes and chains, swings, laddders, balls, beads and noise making devices will provide hours of pleasure for the lory.

Lories are excellent mimics and will very quickly learn to mimic the telephone ringing, the calls of other animals such as cats, noise of running water if they can normally hear this, doorbells, beepers and some can even learn words and sentences if they hear these repeated often enough from a human, TV or radio.


Perhaps the one major negative point for most potential owners of a lory is the fact that as nectar eaters the poop from a lory is liquid and it can be squirted some distance. This can make a mess of the area surrounding a cage or indoor aviary and some measures need to be taken to contain this mess. This can mean placing some sort of screening material around the lower half of a cage or in more expensive cages the use of clear acrylic sheeting or glass around most of the lower cage.
In an outdoor aviary this is not so much of an issue as with other non nectar eaters a good hosedown of the avairy floor is the best way to keep it clean.

Yellow-bib with pet human Kellie

Blue-streak enjoying a tickle

Yeooh! Red-collar nips an ear

What sort of cage or aviary do I need?


Basially one large enough for the lory to live and sleep in comfortably.
A cage is usually for indoors although an outdoor aviary is a much better idea since it will mean the calls or noises of the lory do not become an annoyance when the lory is demanding attention.
An aviary large enough to allow the lory to fly around is the ideal solution but such an aviary would need to be at least 5 metres long by 1.2 meetres wide and 1 metre high. Such a large structure may not be possible where space is limited. An alterative is to keep the lory in a smaller space but allow it some time to fly around a room or garage.
For more general information on cages, aviaries, nestboxes and their design refer to the AVIARIES area on this web site.

Where do I get a Lory or Lorikeet and how much do they cost?


The best source is from a lory and lorikeet breeder although many pet stores will know how to source a lory for a customer. Larger pet stores will often have one or more different breeds of lory and lorikeet available.
Also look in the FOR SALE area on this web site.

The most popular and low priced lorikeets tend to be Rainbows, Musks and Scalies. These are all Australian lorikeets and the rainbow is well known for its striking coloured plumage which immediately appeals to the potential lorikeet owner.
Most of these more common lories will be hand-reared but it may be a good idea to confirm this with the seller as an aviary raised bird will definitely not be as human friendly and will take a lot longer to become a trusting pet. If you are after a bird for breeding purposes then the aviary raised bird will tend to bond to another bird and start breeding much sooner than a pet bird.
Pets that eventually pair off for breeding will become more protective of each other and their nesting box and less dependant on humans for companionship. (i.e. they may become more nippy!)


For the more expensive and less common Lories then doing some research on possible sources is the only answer. Joining a local parrot club or society is a good first move and if the required bird is available locally or there is a breeder nearby then the club will often know about it. Quite often the for-sale sections of their newletter or magazine will be a good source for contacting people even if the bird you want is not advertised.
Again with these less common birds most will have been hand raised. Breeders will probably have removed either the eggs to eliminate any risk of breaking fertile eggs, or the young birds to avoid possible feather plucking or feeding problems of young birds.
If the bird is to be a pet then again check with the breeder that it has been hand raised.


In general the selling price of Lories in New Zealand is higher than in many other countries. This is a reflection on the relatively few breeders in New Zealand and the small population of breeding lories.
Pricing varies depending on immediate availabilty, recent sales both from pet stores and from Breeders suggests the following prices for single birds, pairs (cock and hen), and mutations in New Zealand dollars:


Rainbow lorikeet $250 to $300, $900/olive, Pair greens $500 to $600,
Massena's lorikeet $500 to $600, pair $1000 to $1200,
Red-collared lorikeet $500 to $600, Pair $1000 to $1200,
Musk lorikeet $200 to $300, Pair $500 to $700, more for Yellow Pied mutations,
Scaly lorikeet $180/green $200/olive $900/yellow up to $2000/cinnamon, Pair $350 to several thousands, green/yellow and green/cinnamon split males to $500
Yellow-bibbed lory $1500+, Pair $3000+, breeding Pair $3500+,
Green-naped lorikeet $2000/pair
Blue-streaked lory $2000, pair $4000+, breeding Pair $5000+
Yellow-backed lory $2500, pair $5500+
Cardinal lory $3000, pair $6500+

Note that a breeding pair will often cost more than the 'pair' prices indicated above. This is the difference between a bonded pair, which will often mean birds that may be old enough to breed but may not actually have produced fertile eggs and an established breeding pair that have successfully raised young (or from which young have been successfully hand-raised by humans!).
Other factors affecting prices include:
Is the bird DNA sexed? and is there documentation showing this? (unlikely with lower cost lories)
Is the bird guaranteed PBFD free? and free from other virus infections?
Is the bird hand reared? if so is it a young bird?
Is there any return or exchange possible if bird is not suitable?
Who pays for shipping and insurance if bird is to be sent via shipper/courier? and related to this who is responsible if the bird does not arrive safely?
Is a cage, aviary, nestbox, toys, etc., included in the price?
Is any support material/documentation provided? ie feeding information or food samples?


Obviously the more unusal birds will attract a much higher price with mutations being particularly high priced.
It is also unusual for an established breeding pair of birds to be commonly available and nearly all pairs will be young birds, probably no more than one year old. If purchased for breeding then be prepared for a two to three year wait for larger birds to start breeding. Smaller birds such as Musks and Scalies have been know to start breeding from as young as six months although two years appears to be the usual age.

Contact us


If you have a question or enquiry about Lories then leave a message in the message forum on this web site. Please remember to include your email address.

If you would like to email the Lory-Link please send email to

Kellie Stewart (arawa.aviaries@xtra.co.nz)

If you are in New Zealand and would like to find out more about meetings and subscribing to the Lory-Link newsletter then you can phone Kellie on AUCKLAND (9) 827-3604 or Fax AUCKLAND (9) 358-0059.

Tile pattern: Red-collared and Scaly-breasted lorikeets

Page written by David Dix, last modified 15 May 2004.