Breeding Meyer's Lorikeet
Small and neat and attractively marked, sums up Meyer's Lorikeet (Trichoglossus flavoviridis meyeri). It has a pleasing temperament and even parent reared birds show little fear. Unfortunately, it has always lived in the shadow of more brightly coloured species, such as the similarly sized Goldie's Lorikeet.
Meyer's measure 17cm and weigh 40 50g, females being lighter. The nominate race, the Yellow and Green Lorikeet, measures 21cm and weighs about 81g to 95g. Its size, appearance and vocalisations are different. Possibly the two should be considered as different species.
Meyer's, unlike the Yellow and Green, is one of the most inexpensive of the Loriinae. It is an ideal species for beginners with lorikeets and for those who have no outdoor accommodation -only indoor cages. They are quiet, nondestructive, easy to care for, prolific and interesting, yet too often they are overlooked by lorikeet enthusiasts. Males start to display when they are about ten months old. Male and female can be put together at about one year old but will probably not breed until they are two years old. I have bred from males at 11 years and would guess that they remain fertile up to 15 years, or more. Breeding span and lifespan of the small lorikeets is not quite as long as that of the large species.
In this article I will describe events in the life of a pair of wild caught Meyer's which I obtained in 1996, on February 15. I placed them in a heated outdoor birdrooom in a cage made entirely of welded mesh, except for the aluminium trays. It measured 2m (6ft) long, 43cm (17in) wide and 61cm (2ft) high. It was the top cage of a double unit on a 61cm (2ft) high base on castors. The three 60cm (2ft) trays are lined with newspaper which is changed every day, thus cleaning out is quick and easy. The Meyer's hail been in a slightly smaller cage but settled down immediately,
Two days later they were using the nest box for roosting, as lorikeets normally do. Their food consisted of Aves Lorinectar (an excellent product from the Netherlands), dry sunflower seed (they refused to touch it soaked), apple, pear and spray millet.
In appearance they are a typical pair; the male has deeper yellow cheek patches and a slightly larger head and bill. It was not long before he started displaying and trying to mate with the female. On nearly every occasion. I witnessed he was rebuffed by the female. She laid her first egg on March 2 that is, 16 days after arrival. The second egg was laid during the afternoon of March 4. It hatched on March 27. The first egg was infertile.
The chick weighed 4.5g on hatching and was covered in short white down. It developed well and was ringed at only nine days old with a 5m (internal measurement) ring. Its eyes were slitting at 13 days and were fully open by 17 days. The green feathers on ear coverts and tail were erupting when it was 19 days old.
The nest litter had to be changed every three or four days, then every two days, as it soon became wet. Despite my attempts to keep the nest dry, the parents plucked the chick's underparts. When it left the nest at 54 days it was completely naked below. Newly fledged young differ from the adults in the brown beak, brownish iris and less well de fined markings.
On the first day it sat quietly in the cage, occasionally begging for food from its father. Its mother was never seen to feed it. On the next day it knew its way around the cage and entered the nest box that night.
Thereafter it usually retired early, at about 5pm.
On the day after it left the nest I placed some chickweed on the cage floor. The male flew down at once to sample it, followed immediately by the young one who soon started to nibble at it. A few days later I placed some seeding grasses on the cage floor. The parents were not interested but the young one immediately sampled them.
In the early morning of June 1 the female laid the first egg of the second clutch. The male then attacked the young one and although it was only 12 days since it had left the nest, I therefore had to remove it. I prefer to leave lorikeet chicks with their parents for a minimum of one month and sometimes much longer. Indeed, some parents will accept the presence of a single youngster from the last nest when they are rearing the young of the next nest. I moved the youngster to a small cage. Soon after the he was drinking nectar and nibbling chickweed.
The female's second clutch consisted of only one egg. This was perhaps because an egg breaking Iris Lorikeet laid on the same day. I put her egg in the incubator and on the following day gave it to the Meyer's. As she was then incubating two eggs, her body must have indicated that that was a full clutch. Her own egg hatched on June 24 and the Iris on that day or the next day. Whereas the chick in the first nest had ben ringed at the very early age of nine days, this chick's development was slightly slower, as one might expect with two chicks in the nest; it was ringed at 12 days. Both young were slightly plucked but not as severely as the Meyer's in the previous nest.
The Meyer's left the nest at 54 days and the Iris at 58 days. A week after the latter left the nest I removed the male Meyer's to another cage, as I did not trust him. Two weeks later both young ones were removed and the male was returned. Thirteen days later the female laid again; a second egg was laid after three days.
The two young ones from different nests were housed together in a 1.8m cage with a nest box, which they used from the first night.
Ze waren zeer speels en rolden uren over de bodem van de kooi. De jongen uit het eerste nest waren inmiddels zo tam dat ze zo op mijn arm plaatsnamen. Ik had niet getracht ze tam te maken.
De eitjes van het derde legsel waren onbevrucht, waarschijnlijk omdat het vrouwtje te snel na terugkeer van het mannetje gelegd had.
Het volgende legsel werd gelegd op 30 oktober en 3 november. Een ei haalde ik eruit en in plaats daarvan legde ik twee verse eitjes van de Musschenbroeklori eronder. De Musschenbroeken pleegde hun eitjes altijd te beschadigen.
Alle drie jongen kwamen binnen een tijd van vier dagen uit. Echter de kleinste, een Musschenbroeklori, werd nauwelijks gevoerd. Deze hield ik eruit voor handopfok. Toen de jonge Meyerlori 7 dagen oud was heb ik deze er ook uitgehaald omdat ook deze in groei achter begon te raken. Op 12 december heb ik ook het laatste jong eruit gehaald omdat deze geplukt werd. Tevens bleef het vrouwtje niet meer in het nest en aangezien de temperatuur in hun ruimte maar 10 graden was hield ik er rekening mee dat het jong zou kunnen onderkoelen. Voor de eerste keer gebruikte ik een commercieel handopfokvoer nl. KayTee Exact. Het kleinste jong voerde ik om de 1,5 uur vanaf 6:45 in de morgen tot 22:45 in de avond. De jongen ontwikkelde zich zo snel dait ik al snel om de 2,5 uur kon voeren. Dit tijdschema hield ik aan tot dat het oudste jong 51 dagen was. Daarna begonnen de jongen verwarmde opfokvoeder van Lori nektar te drinken. Dit warme mengsel werd meerdere keren per dag aangeboden en het aantal keren dat nog met het lepeltje werd gevoederd werd verminderd. In deze tijd werden ze ook overgebracht naar een onverwarmde kooi waar ze al direct op de stok plaats namen. Ze begonnen vrijwel direct aan vliegoefeningen.
Jonge lori's laten zich zeer gemakkelijk met de hand grootbrengen en er is ook geen papegaaiachtige die zo snel zelfstandig is.
Zoals eerder vermeld werden de laatste drie jongen op 12 december van de ouders gescheiden.
The female laid again on December 30. This time there was only one egg, which was still being incubated at the time of writing. Thus in a year, the pair had produced three chicks of their own (no doubt it would have been four, had I not removed one egg), reared an iris from hatching to independence and fed a Musschenbroek's until I removed it. They are inexpensive little birds but they certainly paid for their keep!
They are extremely easy to feed. Nectar, fruit and sunflower seed forms the basis of the diet but they do not consume large amounts of any of these foods. Apple, pear and pomegranates are the favoured fruits; millet spray is also eaten and on occasions a few small seeds such as safflower and oats. In the last nest, when the musschenbroek's was being reared, I had obtained a large quantity of pomegranates at a reduced price and the young one was fed almost entirely on these and sunflower, thus the nest kept quite dry.
I first bred this species in 1976 and have reared it every year since while living in the UK. It was also bred while I was curator at Loro Parque. Meyer's were not in the collection at Palmitos Park. I missed this species so much that the only lorikeets I bought on returning to the UK were a pair of Meyer's. Although they are not as brightly coloured as many lorikeets, they have a quiet charm and a very attractive personality. They will always be among my favourites.
Weight of one parent reared (believed red male) and one hand reared (believed female) chick from the same pair. The hand reared chick was removed at seven days because it could not compete with the larger, fostered chick in the nest.