The Lovable Lorikeet in New Zealand


 By Kellie Stewart


Over the past 14 years I have tried my hand at keeping many birds, but over the past 8 years I have devoted my aviaries to keeping and breeding lorikeets. These wonderful birds have won my heart over the seedeaters call me crazy, but there is just something about them. I never new when I first started to specialize in the squirters that there would be so much to learn about them. Thus bird friends and alike call “Arawa Aviaries” “Squirt Station”



There are many diets available now. When lorikeets where first introduced into New Zealand it was all new to everyone. The diets consisited of items like condenced milk, sugars and such like.


We have available commercial mixes, both wet and dry. New pellet diets have just come onto the market and are available to the lorikeet owners. Pellet diets are good for pet owners, but work out too expensive when you are feeding more than a few birds. Some people make there own mixes as I do. Commercial wet mix appears to be fine, but some have a very “plastic” sort of smell. I have tried them but the bird’s just dont like them. This does depend on what the birds is used to. Dry mixes are also used and work quite well for some folks, as long as a good fruit and vegetable diet is included, along with vitamin and mineral supplements. Providing fresh greens like dandilion, puha and milkweed is a must. I have seen many lorikeets kept on a dry mix, minimal fruit and vegetable, or nothing at all becoming very deficient, which in turn, may cauce plucking, discolouration of the feathers. Eg green feathers turning yellow or blue feathers turning red. Red and yellow feathers is a sign something is up, normally indicating a liver problem, because of the incorrect diet and the bird is not getting all the goodness it requires to maintain a healthy status. Birds to this effect will eventually become ill and have problems in the future. Your breeding success will be minimal, and they will be more prone to fungal and bacterial issues as well as vitamin A deficiency.




3 pkt baby farex (supermarket)
1/4 cup glucose powder
1/4 cup rice flour
1/4 cup arrowroot flour
1/4 cup ground corn meal
1/4 tspn spirilina powder
1/4 tspn kelp granules
1/2 pkt crushed malt biscuits (any plain biscuit will be ok here)
4 wheat bix
2 tblspns pollen granules
1/2 tspn ornithon vitamin and mineral supplement
1 cup Katie's Exact handrearing food
1 tspn grated cuttlefish or you can add a few drops of calcium “Sandoz” once a week into the wet wix as you make it.
1/4 tspn kelp granules

1 tspn Vet-A Farm Probotic

Blend all together in a food processor so it becomes a fine powder but not too fine and store in an airtight container. This mix can be offered dry or to make into a wet mix just add a small amount of clover honey and warm water to mix to a runny consistency.



One apple, preferable half a green apple and half a red apple
(a pear or peach can be substituted here or mix of these fruits)
several grapes or cherries if available OR several sultanas
1 level tblspn of dark honey
1/2 wheatbix biscuit
1 plain biscuit
1/4 tspn yeast extract (inactive)
1/4 tspn kelp granules or for a change 1/4 tspn of spirulina powder
1 tspn of light olive oil or peanut oil
1/2 tspn of pollen granules
250ml of apple juice (or apple/mango juice)

Place all ingredients together in a blender and make up liquid volume to 1 litre with water and blend into an evenly consistent liquid. In cold weather use warm water (45 to 50 degrees C)



Quick and Easy wet mix
2 425g tin of mixed fruit, pears or peaches with juice

2 bananas

½ tspn spirilina or a vitamin and mineral suppliment

¼ tspn kelp

½ cup baby farex or baby egg custard

2 cups of warm hot water
Blend together in the food processor until of even consistency.


It is very important to maintain a good level of hygiene. Food dishes must be washed between feeds, never put fresh wet mix into a dirty dish. In summer watch for wet mix spoiling in the heat of the day. Remove left over fruit and vegetables from the previous day. In the peck of summer I remove any left over wet mix from the aviaries in the evening and replace with an apple or fresh wet mix for and evening snack most lorikeets need to be feed twice daily.




Apples, oranges, pears, grapes, passionfruit, banana, cooked kumera, cooked pumpkin, rose hips, tea tree, bottle brush flowers, milk weed, thistle, silverbeet, dandilion and flowers, cooked chicken and chop bones, millet sprays, vogels bread, plain biscuits round wine malt biscuits, soaked dates/sultanas, cheeries, mangoes, corn on the cob or the frozen products from the supermarket including mixed vegetables, soaked and sprouted seed, plain sponge cake or maderia.



Avacado, chocolate, alcohol, coffee, potato chips, salt crackers. The best way is to keep it natural and plain. People often say to me but he likes it. My response is I like rum and coke but its still not good for me. Avacado will kill your bird with on hours of eating it there is no cure or treatment to help a bird once avacado is ingested; the ONLY outcome is sudden death. This goes for any type of bird not just lorikeets.



If you feed and house your lorikeets in the correct manner sickness will be minimal. REMEMBER: to quarantine new stock COMING ONTO YOUR PROPERTY. I can’t stress this enough.

Fungal infections are very common in lorikeets.(Candida albilicans)This can occur for many reasons: poor housing – contaminated food – poor hand rearing methods – low levels of friendly bacteria in the crop and digestive system – vitamin A deficiency.

Fungal infections also make an appearance when a bird is being treated for bacterial infections with antibiotics, this is called an opportunist infection as the antibiotic upsets the natural bacterial flora. Making it an easy target for candida.



Adult birds will act normally and continue to eat and play the same way for the first few days, once the vomiting starts it gets more frequent as the bird’s condition worsens.



Remove old food from the flights. Keep water clean. Insure vitamin A intake is adequate. Maintain a general level of hygiene when handling and hand rearing. 4 ml of cider vinegar per litre of filtered water can be used when mixing hand-rearing food, or for drinking water. The vinegar to use is called mother of vinegar, it has a cloudy appearance, and can be purchased at most health food shops. Friendly bacteria also helps your lorikeets maintain good health. Acidophilus or “Vet a Farm” probotic added into you wet mix is very beneficial to help maintain a happy and healthy flora in the birds gut and crop and digestive system.

Do not leave fruit out for long periods. Rotting fruit often has high fungal and yeast levels. Hot humid weather provides good breeding conditions for Candida. Keep a close eye on your birds in summer.

Bacterial Septicemia – poor housing – contaminated food – poor hand rearing methods

Nutritional diseases – incorrect or inadequate diet

Polymavirus – an opportunist infection taking hold when the bird immune system is low. The virus has to present on the property or carried and shed by another bird for this to occur.

Paralysis – diet deficiency – poisoning from lead and zinc. (lead and zinc have a sweet taste to the lories, making it even more of an attractive nibble or lick)

Feather Plucking – stress -- boredom – inadequate diet and housing – overcrowding in aviary

Worms – Some people say lorikeets don’t suffer from worm problems, I advise to worm your lorikeets especially aviary birds and birds with grass dirt floors. Worming can be done with a very lorikeet friendly wormer purchased from your chemist. Combantrin. Administered in the wet mix twice a year. (after their moult and just before the breeding season) Combantrin is a single dose wormer unlike other wormers when it is advised to worm again in 10 – 12 days time after the fist dosing. It is also good to alternate your worming products so the birds system does not build up immunity to the same wormer. Panacur 2.5 is also good to worm lorikeets with. Confirm correct dosage before worming any bird.

Chills – inadequate shelter / housing - being left in a direct draft.

Egg Binding – usually caused by inadequate calcium levels

Cooking fumes – Teflon fumes – cigarette smoke – chocolate - coffee – alcohol -burning candles/incense – fly spray to name a few can be highly detrimental to your pet some times fatal if consumed or inhaled.

Iron storage disease (Hemochromatosis) This is a metabolic disorder when large amount of iron accumulates in the body tissue of the bird, eventually ending in death. (this occurs when feeding a diet to high in iron )

Vitamin A deficiency – Vitamin A is most important to all birds not just lorikeets. Vitamin A is responsible for maintaining healthy mucous linings of the respiratory, reproductive and digestive tracks. With a vitamin A deficiency these particular parts of the body will not remain healthy and in good working order. These tracks are bathed and cleansed by mucous which is moved around by these fine hairs. With out vitamin A the hairs dries up and stop doing the required job of bathing and cleansing the above tracts. Once this occurs the body is made more susceptible to fungal and bacterial infections. If your bird does not breed well, plucks, and has reoccurring illness, it may well be a vitamin A is an issue. Remember birds need a good protein intake to be able to absorb vitamin A effectively. Food that has a good amount of vitamin A is leafy greens fruit and vegetables yellow and orange in colour. Eg: carrot; to release vitamin A from carrot it must be partially steamed or cooked not fed raw.

PBFD - (Cirovirus) usually contracted from an infected bird being bought onto your property (PBFD can also be carried on clothing and footwear from one place to another, it is an air born virus). PBFD effects keratin production keratin is responsible for the healthy growth and development of growing feathers and beak in many species of parrot and lorikeets. PBFD also attacks the immune system thus the reason for titling it “Aids of the bird world”. All species have their own particular version of the virus that affects them. For example the PBFD a lorikeet gets will not infect a cockatoo and vice versa. Lorikeets are known to be able to recover after being infected with the PFDS virus, most other species do not, its not a nice. Young lorikeets with a young undeveloped immune system are at risk if they come into contact with the virus will normally succumbs to the disease by a bacterial or fungal infection because of the lack of the birds immunity.

If you wish to read more on PBFD visit the “Lory-Link” website www.kcbbs.gen.nzlori/ar The article section as general guideline on this disease, and was compiled by the Avian Disease Management Council.


For all species listed except the yellow bib have been known to lay 3 eggs per clutch this is rare but does happen.

RAINBOW LORIKEET  (swainsons – blue mountain)

Clutch size: 2

Incubation: 22-24days

Mutations available: grey/green - cinnamon

Young in nest: 8 weeks

Adult weight: 130 grams

Nest box size: 7cm



Clutch size: 2

Incubation: 12-22 days

Mutations available: cinnamon – grey/green and


Young in nest: 8 weeks

Adult weight: 80 grams

Nest box size:  height 35cm x 20cm x 20cm

Nest entrance size: 6cm



Clutch size: 2

Incubation: 21-22 days

Mutations available: some breeders are working

on the grey/green mutation at the present time

and also lutino

Young in nest: 8 weeks

Adult weight: 60 grams

Nest box size: same as scalie

Nest entrance size: same as scalie



Clutch size: 2

Incubation: 22-24 days

Mutations available: breeders are beginning to take

an interest in breeding the grey/green mutation

Young in nest: 8 weeks

Adult weight: 130 grams

Nest box size: Height 40cm X 22cm x 22cm

Nest entrance size: 7cm



Clutch size: 2

Incubation: 25 days

Mutations available: none

Young in nest: 10-12 weeks

Adult weight: 150 grams

Nest box size: Height 45cm x 22cm x 22cm

Nest entrance size: 7-8cm.



Lorikeets are one of the easiest birds to breed if given the correct diet, housing, and nesting requirements. They love to chew, so heaps of good natural perching never goes amiss. Nesting material can consist of untreated sawdust, throwing in rotting bark especially for yellow bibs as this is chewed up for the nest. It gets the birds working the box and getting the urge to start breeding. I have used hollow logs also as nesting sites, all species would appreciate this. Birds must be in good condition to breed well. I feed a good diet all year round not just on the approach to the breeding season. When the lorikeets have bred and they have young I find their favourite foods are wet mix, corn, dandilion, plain biscuits, Fruit pulps, soaked vogels bread in honey water, sponges and maderia cake.


Lorikeets can pluck their chicks and sometimes you will find yourself handrearing babies. Plucking is something to watch out for, so it is good to be able to check the nest if you can to see how the babies are going, especially with first time breeders. Lorikeets tend to develop a pattern. If they desert the babies at 2 weeks old they will usually do it every time they breed. If they don’t feed the bubs after hatching then they will usually continue this pattern. Give the pair several attempts; let them make a few mistakes if they are new at the breeding thing. You will get good parents and bad parents; it’s the luck of the draw. Some lorikeet species like the rainbow and scaly can breed all year round.




The best breeding is obtained by breeding these birds in flights consisting of one pair per flight. I have tried colony breeding, but this has always ended up in problems. The aviaries I use for the smaller species like the musk and scaly measure 900 wide x 1800 height x 2.500mm in length. The bigger birds like the rainbows and yellow bibs have slightly longer flights measuring 3 metres in length, but have the same width and height as the others. I have concrete floors, which makes it easier to keep clean. Some breeders use suspended flight for easier cleaning. Lorikeets love to have a nest box to sleep in regardless of if they are breeding or not. My aviaries always have nest boxes and all pairs sleep in their nest boxes at night.




Lorikeets love to play, it does not matter what age they are they will wrestle round their aviary play on the ground and play fight with their mates. I have ropes and toys hanging from the roof of the aviary. Lorikeets like to play it is only fair you provide them with the items to do so. Lorikeets also like to bathe. Provide them with a big enough water dish to allow bathing, this you have to see. A lorikeet having a bath can be very amusing to the eye especially several lorikeets in the bath at the same time causes mayhem.


Lorikeets are awesome to keep. Their personalities are amazing. I walk out to the aviaries for feed out, I have 35 different personalities welcoming my arrival each lorikeets and lory have their own special quirks. They are playful full of cheek and have a character no other bird compares, that’s why they are know fondly as the “Clowns of the Bird World”


Please note if you wish to read more in detail regarding the different species and other concepts about keeping lories and lorikeets please refer

To the “ Lory Link” website