Ask Lafeber

Question:

June 19, 2020

Will my female lorikeet bond with a new male lorikeet?


Hi,
I have had an ornate lorikeet since July 2019. I wasn’t sure of her sex while getting her but eventually I tried out the pendulum test on her and I was quite convinced that my bird is female. I would say she has bonded very well with me but she is quite aggressive towards my husband. One fine day, she laid two eggs! It confirmed the fact that she’s female and my husband and i thought that it would be a good idea to get her a partner. We went ahead and got a male ornate lorikeet. Initially we kept them apart in two different cages and eventually moved them both together into a larger cage. Sometimes, the male tries to approach her but she scares him off. And sometimes she tries to approach him but he stays away. Thankfully they’re not violent with each other. But they aren’t getting along either. Now we’re beginning to think that maybe it wasn’t such a good idea after all. How do we get them to bond? Is that possible at all? And if it isn’t, how do we go about handling both of them without upsetting either of them? Is breeding a possibility? Is friendship a possibility? Please advise! Thank you!


Answer:

Hi Meghna,

Lorys and Lorikeets are interesting parrots. I had 4 who all lived into their 30’s. And I have worked with many others over the years.  Generally speaking, once you cage two birds together, you will lose them as pets. Even if the birds are same sex, they will tend to bond with each other and not remain tame. That being said, these colorful parrots break a lot of the rules! Mine were in two cages – two were sisters who spent their lives together, and a male & female who were different species that bonded. I was able to handle all 4 birds throughout their lives. I personally prefer to see Lorys/Lorikeets kept in pairs, though not necessarily opposite sex. I have found that if they start off tame, they can still be handled if caged together. There are Zoos that maintain Lory aviaries that the public can come into and feed and handle the birds. They have so much energy, that it is very hard for a person to keep them entertained, so having a companion fills the gaps. I don’t know if your two birds are still tame and I can’t guarantee they will remain tame, but it is more likely they will compared to most other parrot species.

I’ve also found that they have a lot of spats. My 2 sisters and my male/female pair would get into struggles where they would end up on the cage floor rolling around like a ball, legs and wings going every direction. These were loud fights with lots of action, but never resulted in injuries or blood being drawn. I’ve known successful breeding pairs that do the same thing. My rule with bird fights is that as long as feathers aren’t being ripped out or blood isn’t being drawn, let them work it out. I’ve seen other parrot species in similar fights that were serious enough that they had to be separated. Somehow the Lorys never got to that point. So a certain amount of annoying one another seems to be normal with these hyper little birds.

As to breeding, you will need to do a lot of research before you head down that road. You will need the right kind of nest box to begin with. And breeding is complicated – birds will sometimes eat eggs, or not incubate them, or not feed the chicks when they hatch. And the parent birds may not stay tame.

It sounds like your female had a mate bond with you rather than a flock member bond. So she is feeling torn between you and this other bird. This is preventing them from truly bonding now and it’s hard to say if they will form a close bond. If you continue to handle her, you need to avoid anything that makes you seem like a mate. This is mainly related to how you pet her – limit all petting to her head. When you pet her on her body, it sends her the message that you are a mate since only the mate is allowed this type of contact. This may help her to get along better with the male.

So in closing, they can remain together unless the fights get too severe. And if you want them to breed once you have done your research, you need to step away and stop handling either bird so they can focus on bonding and raising chicks. Outside of breeding season, the nest box should be removed to rest the parents, and you might be able to go back to handling her again.

Thank you for asking Lafeber,

Brenda

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