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Ornate Lorikeet

Nicole Cosgrove

Maybe you’re thinking of adding a bird to your home and want to know what to expect, or perhaps you already purchased one and want to know exactly what you need.

Either way, we break down everything that you need to know to care for these beautiful birds properly. That way, they can have a happy and healthy life.

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Species Overview

Trichoglossus ornatus -San Antonio Zoo-8a
Trichoglossus ornatus -San Antonio Zoo-8a (Image Credit: George Coller, Wikimedia Commons CC SA 2.0 Generic)
Common Names: Ornate Lorikeet
Scientific Name: Trichoglossus ornatus
Adult Size: 10 inches
Life Expectancy: 10 to 20 years

Origin and History

Originally from the Sulawesi region of Indonesia, the Ornate Lorikeet quickly gained popularity in the pet industry due to their litany of beautiful colors.

In Indonesia, you can find these beautiful birds in woodlands, mangroves, and plantations, typically in pairs or larger flocks. While they were once far more common in the U.S. pet industry, they’re a bit more challenging to care for than other Lorikeets, and today, they aren’t as popular.

Temperament

Like most Lorikeets, the Ornate Lorikeet has a sweet and affectionate disposition. They love spending time with their owners and are extremely social birds.

Just keep in mind that if they’re not getting enough attention from you, their tame behavior can turn aggressive, and this is an extremely difficult problem to address.

If you’re looking to have multiple birds or pair your birds with larger pets, such as dogs, the Ornate Lorikeet makes a great companion if socialization is consistent and often.

Keep in mind that you can house multiple birds together, but you need to ensure that you have enough space for all of them, as the Ornate Lorikeet can become a bit territorial. Finally, keep in mind that like all Lorikeets, the Ornate Lorikeet is extremely intelligent. While this is great for training and tricks, it does mean they tend to try to escape and make your life a little more frustrating.

Pros
  • Beautiful plumage
  • High intelligence makes them fun to train
  • Friendly disposition makes them a joy to handle
Cons
  • Not as hardy as other Lorikeet species
  • Expensive and hard to track down

Speech & Vocalizations

Part of their high intelligence is the fact that Ornate Lorikeets make great vocal companions. They can learn plenty of words and phrases, which is always fun for bird owners.

However, birds with the ability to vocalize tend to do just that. So, if you’re looking for a quieter bird or live close to neighbors, the Ornate Lorikeet isn’t a good match. These birds are noisy even when they’re not trying to talk.

Lorikeets -Nahsville Zoo -two species-8a
Lorikeets -Nahsville Zoo -two species-8a (Image Credit: Fred, Wikimedia Commons CC SA 3.0 Unported)

Ornate Lorikeet Colors and Markings

While parrots are known for their colorful plumage, the Ornate Lorikeet makes many parrot variations look drab in comparison. They have a dark green belly and upper tail, with spots of green on the wings.

From there, they have yellowish/green thighs and an extremely colorful head. Above the beak is a purple/blue color, and just under that, it’s a bright red color.

The chest to head area contains stripes of red and blue, and along the back of the head is more bright yellow plumage. Their beak is also a bright red and is a standout feature on these birds.

Both female and male Ornate Lorikeets look identical, so telling the two apart can be challenging without the help of an experienced vet.

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Caring for the Ornate Lorikeet

Caring for any bird requires a bit of work, but the Ornate Lorikeet is not for a beginner birder. They are extremely sensitive to temperature changes and are more prone to health problems if you don’t keep up with husbandry requirements.

If you plan on getting an Ornate Lorikeet, get a cage that’s at least 4 feet long, 2 feet wide, and 3 feet tall. With an Ornate Lorikeet, bigger is always better, so don’t think that you can overwhelm them with too large of an enclosure.

Choose a metal cage so your Lorikeet can’t tear it apart with their beak. The bars need to be between 5/8” and ¾” apart to keep them from hurting themselves or getting stuck.

From there, you need to spend anywhere from 4 to 6 hours with them outside of their enclosure every day and keep plenty of toys and perches for them inside their enclosure.

Rotate these toys every few days to keep the bird from mastering any of them and keep them entertained. You’ll also need to clean the bottom of and around their cage every day, as these birds are extremely messy eaters.

You need to take the time to bathe them occasionally and give them access to water at all times. It’s also a good idea to clip their wings after each molt. That way, it’s easier to handle them, and it’s less likely that they’ll escape.

Common Health Problems

While the Ornate Lorikeet is a relatively healthy pet, they are a bit more susceptible to health problems compared to other Lorikeet species. Chief among these concerns are respiratory issues and digestive system distress.

While you can avoid these problems with proper husbandry, there’s less room for novices to make mistakes. Another potential health concern is Lorikeet paralysis syndrome. While the exact cause is unknown, this condition is fatal.

Finally, without enough attention and care, these birds are prone to depression and self-mutilating behaviors. Complicating the matter is that if these birds don’t get enough attention, they can become aggressive toward their owners, making it hard to care for them properly.

ornate lorikeet close up
Image Credit: RoyBuri, Pixabay

Diet and Nutrition

Feeding a Lorikeet is far more challenging than for typical parrots. Lorikeets eat a liquid diet of nectar and flower pollen. You need to prepare their food two to three times a day, and you must make it fresh every time.

They eat for at least 3 hours each day, and it’s best if you monitor them during this time. Lorikeets can eat fruit, flowers, and other vegetables about twice a day, but they need the nectar to survive.

You must discard all food after 2–3 hours because bacteria growth will start to occur, and this can make your bird sick.

Unlike many birds that require a pellet-based or seed-based diet, these can damage an Ornate Lorikeets tongue and are extremely detrimental to them.

Exercise

In the wild, Ornate Lorikeets are used to flying around for miles at a time, so while they’re in captivity, you need to supply them with as much exercise as possible. This includes perches in their enclosure and plenty of things for them to climb around on.

However, it doesn’t matter how many obstacles you put in their enclosure, you still need to take your Ornate Lorikeet out of their cage several times a day for a minimum of 3 hours.

Some Ornate Lorikeets will require even more time out of their enclosure each day to help with exercise and boredom.

Where to Adopt or Buy an Ornate Lorikeet

Finding an Ornate Lorikeet isn’t an easy endeavor. While they used to be extremely popular in the United States, they fell out of favor for other Lorikeet species, like the Rainbow Parakeet.

If you’re looking to purchase an Ornate Lorikeet, you’ll likely have to track down a breeder, as it’s almost impossible to find them at pet stores. This drives up their price dramatically.

When you track down an Ornate Lorikeet breeder, you can expect to spend anywhere from $600 to $1,500. But while they are expensive up front, they can live over 20 years if you take care of them properly, which helps offset the initial cost.

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Conclusion

While the Ornate Lorikeet is an extremely beautiful and charming bird, they’re not for novices or those with a busy lifestyle. You’ll need to commit a great deal of time to these birds, but the reward is an extremely charming and intelligent companion.

Just be sure to know what you’re getting into and have enough time to devote to them before purchasing one!


Featured Image Credit: NataliaVo, Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.