Feeding a Lorikeet.
Lorikeets are a parrot species that have special dietary requirements. While all the basic recommendations for chop and fruit apply to these birds, they also consume nectar and pollen.
Fresh foods provide important nutrients and should be the primary ingredient in a healthy diet. Orange vegetables in particular like carrots, sweet potato, and pumpkin are critical sources of Vitamin A. Sweet potatoes are rich in complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber, and beta-carotene (a provitamin A carotenoid). They provide moderate levels of other micronutrients including vitamin B5, vitamin B6, and manganese. Remember, always cook sweet potatoes and try to feed these as often as you can. As far as all the other veggies are concerned ... yes, they are good for Lorikeets too. Adding sprouts to the mix will provide additional vegetable proteins and round out the nutrition for a Lorikeet's diet.
The standard recommendations on fruits also apply but these birds should also be given sweeter fruits like berries, pears, oranges, and strawberries. You can slice or dice them or puree them based on your bird's preferences. The fruit a lorikeet eats in the wild has a higher concentration of protein and fiber than the fruit you'll find at the grocery. This high fiber slows the transit time of food moving through the gut. Since Lorikeets do not digest protein well the slow movement of food allows better protein uptake which is why vegetables and sprouts are important to add.
If you want to get "back to nature" and have these things available, your lorikeet will appreciate eucalypt, bottle brush and calistemon branches, especially those that are flowering. You can also supplement your lorikeets diet with fruit juice (apricot, peach). Just make sure you don’t feed fruit alone or as the major component of the diet. Try to give a few items at a time but be sure to mix it up a little for variety. As with all fresh food preparations don't leave food out for too long because it will spoil quickly.
You might also want to add formulated diets specifically designed for lorikeets to supplement the fresh food. If you are feeding a formulated diet make sure you keep it separate from the chop and fruit. Do not wet it or mix it with anything ... keep it separate. Wet feed is prone to fermentation and bacterial proliferation. If there is food left over at the end of the day, you may be feeding too much. The vitamin/mineral and protein needs for a lorikeet remain relatively constant but energy has the greatest fluctuation.
Energy needs depend upon various factors:
Older lorikeets have lower energy requirements than younger, growing birds.
Egg-laying females will require more calcium (and energy) than non-egg layers and males.
Caged birds or those in a small aviary need less energy than those who are free-flighted. Lorikeets in a large flock (either captive or wild) will be more active.
Outside birds need more energy then those kept indoors. In fact, energy needs can double in cold climates. Make sure you consider the climate from which this bird originates and try to maintain a similar temperature range.
During the molt requirements will increase .
Sick birds eat less. Watch how much your lorikeet is eating as a sign of how well it is doing.
Lorikeets don’t have a high demand for drinking water because the food they eat has a high moisture content. Still, water should always be freely available. We strongly recommend a closed, water delivery system because the one-way valve prevents backward contamination unlike ball-valves in other water bottle systems. We hear the argument all the time -- "I clean the water bowl several times a day." The truth is one foot in the bowl and thousands of bacteria are now in the water and starting to grow so standing water should be avoided as much as possible.
Do NOT feed ...
Animal based protein, this includes eggs as egg powder is toxic and there is the risk of bacterial contamination (Salmonella). Putting supplements into drinking water is not a good idea as there is no way to assess their intake and excesses of some vitamins are quite dangerous.
Signs of poor diet ...
See our blog on the Signs of Illness and keep a watchful eye to pick up on any problems. As with all other parrots a change in appearance is the first clue of diet deficiency ... look at their feathers. A change in molting, coloration, and feather quality can be an indication of vitamin deficiency.
Let's Keep it Clean ... a word on Hygiene!
Lorikeets are particularly messy eaters so their cage and water becomes contaminated easily. This messy life style promotes yeast and bacterial growth and lorikeets are just as susceptible to these disease causing organisms as other parrots. The food/water containers should be cleansed daily and the cage at least weekly.
As with ALL parrots, bathing is a must, allow the opportunity for your birds to bathe or shower regularly. Lorikeets will prefer a shallow container to bathe in; let them bathe and then remove the container so there's no opportunity for sneaking a drink from the 'bath water' (yes, they will). If that's not possible then spray or shower them just like your other birds.
Lorikeets are beautiful and make great pets. Their diet requirements are a little different but not insurmountable. As with ALL parrots, make sure your Lorikeet has regular Vet checkups, feed the proper diet, give them challenging activities, practice good hygiene, and enjoy your beautiful little friend.