All About Charmosyna Parrots

All-About-Charmosyna-Parrots
Meeting Charmosyna-Parrots


Charmosyna Parrots Guide


The Charmosyna genus of small lorikeets comprises 14 species with a standout being the Papuan Lorikeet Charmosyna papou. It stands out from the other members by being larger and having a streamer-like tail. This bird is often referred to as the Stella’s Lorikeet, which is the subspecies commonly found in captivity. Common is an odd reference to a rare species, but the Stella’s and the Red-flanked Lorikeet are the only members regularly seen in captivity. Interestingly most Charmosyna lorikeets exhibit sexual dimorphism as opposed to most of the Lorinae.

STATUS

The genus as a whole has three members considered to be either extinct or very rare in the wild. There are images of the Red-throated Lorikeet taken many years ago in Fiji by Dr William Beckon.

The Blue-fronted Lorikeet was recently photographed (but unfortunately is out of focus) and the New Caledonian Lorikeet is critically endangered, if not extinct, and is known only from two female specimens.

The rest of the genus found on mainland New Guinea and nearby islands is considered to be relatively safe, but is vulnerable to deforestation. There are a number of members confined to islands, so their continued existence could be threatened by deforestation as well. It is a pity that little is known about this genus in the wild and some have never been photographed to my knowledge. It would be a great shame if some of these delightful birds slipped into extinction without an image taken or more known about their natural lives.

HABITAT AND BEHAVIOUR

Most of the species are usually found at higher elevations in forested regions above 300m but the Red-flanked and Red-fronted Lorikeets are generally confined to tropical lowlands. However, I have seen Red-flanked at higher altitudes in New Ireland. That is not to say that the higher altitude species have not been recorded in lower areas, particularly where mountains are found rising close to the sea. In fact while on New Ireland some years ago now, I found that as I travelled down the Boluminski Highway to the south, Red-flanked Lorikeets were found in the lowland forests, but when I reached the Limbin area, the mountains were close to the coast and I saw my first Red-chinned Lorikeets feeding in coconut flowers on the beach and found larger flocks each time I travelled into the highland interior of the Lelet Plateau.

These lorikeets are usually seen in flocks, flying overhead to a feeding site, usually nectar. They no doubt feed on fruits, nectar, pollen and lerps. I am sure they don’t reject the occasional protein morsel in the form of insect larvae which I have seen Tahitian or Blue Lories eat. They can be found perched, taking full advantage of the early morning sun to warm themselves, and are known to bathe in among wet leaves during tropical downpours.

It seems these small species frequently burrow and create a cavity for nesting inside the fibrous root ball of epiphytes, so common in trees in their habitat. This is not to say that they don’t utilise hollow branches, but so little is recorded about this wonderful genus in the wild. They lay two white eggs and incubation seems to be about 24 days. Longer periods have been recorded but this may reflect on the parents being inside the nest and not incubating. Some reference is also made to slightly larger clutch sizes, but generally two eggs would be laid as is the case for most Lorinae.

CAPTIVITY

It is rare for any Australian to have experience keeping this genus because our laws prevent us from acquiring them.

However, there are rumours and confirmed instances where Stella’s Lorikeets have been in captivity here. I recommend housing them in suspended aviaries at least 3m long x 0.9 m wide x 1.2 m high with approximately one-third of the aviary covered by Colorbond™ sheeting.


how to breed Charmosyna Parrots
Breeding: Charmosyna Parrots

 

How to Breed Charmosyna Parrots

A nest box measuring 20cm square x 30cm high will prove adequate for Stella’s Lorikeets and can be placed upright or at an angle of 30−40°, depending on the preference of the pair. I would recommend providing a smaller nest box of approximately 15cm square for the smaller forms, as small Glossopsitta lorikeets of Australia prefer small entrances to defend.

However, it seems that if a pair is interested in breeding, they will accept almost any size and position of nest box. Place a mixture of selected decayed wood from a suitable source, peatmoss without additives, untreated wood shavings or a combination of these materials into the box. I usually use the latter two components in a 50/50 mix. Two white eggs are laid and hatch after approximately 24 days, with young fledging at about 50–60 days.

Young become independent after about two weeks, however, I would advise that you keep them with their parents a bit longer, even if you see them feeding themselves. This is their period of learning from their parents and it is important for them to learn the ‘tricks of the trade’.

New fresh natural perches should be provided frequently as they give the birds the opportunity to grip different diameters and chew fresh bark. I often overlook this due to my busy lifestyle, but when I see how much the birds enjoy fresh perches I know I must try and do it more often. Chewing the fresh bark and rubbing their feathers with the moisture obtained must benefit the birds in some way, even if it is just for the fun of it.

I’m sure there is some benefit from this behaviour.


how to feed Charmosyna Parrots
Feeding: Charmosyna Parrots

 

How to Feed Charmosyna Parrots

I would use a mixture of Pro-Nutro™, a South African cereal for human consumption, fine blended plain biscuit such as Arnott’s Nice™ or Milk Arrowroot™, wheatgerm, Sustagen® Hospital Formula providing additional carbohydrates, protein, vitamins and minerals, and malted milk powder. This mix is also low in iron content. Add just enough honey or raw sugar to sweeten the mix. Feed fresh every morning in clean bowls. In very hot weather the mixture can sour over 24 hours, so remove any leftover mixture in the evening, at which time feed fresh fruit such as apple, pear, orange, grapes, mango, paw paw, rockmelon—whatever your birds enjoy or is in season.

Vegetables are an important addition to the diet, although I find that my lories are not that interested in vegetables other than corn and celery, which are greatly appreciated. I generally overcome this situation by blending a mix of frozen vegetables obtained in packets from the supermarket. It is thawed and blended into the daily soft food mix to incorporate peas, carrot, corn, cauliflower, potato and broccoli into their diet. My birds’ plumage glows, so I feel they are getting a reasonable diet.

They are healthy, not overweight and are active in their aviary.

My birds don’t die from liver failure and live much longer than the average 5–6 years.

Avian veterinarians in Australia are most concerned about the number of suspicious deaths in foreign lories occurring at this age, generally from liver failure.

Will we ever have the opportunity to keep these birds? It is unlikely. It is also unfortunate that lories and lorikeets have suffered a decline in numbers in captivity due to various reasons such as costs, local government restrictions and many aviculturists finding them more labour-intensive than other forms of parrot. I can say that lories and lorikeets are among the most colourful, flamboyant birds, have great character and love to interact with their owners.
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