Feeding an injured Blue-crowned Hanging-parrot

posted in: Rescue | 8

Chng Geam Liang rescued a female Blue-crowned Hanging-parrot (Loriculus galgulus) when she crashed onto a wall in a public place in Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia in late January 2015. It appeared unhurt but dazed.

The hanging-parrot was fed “banana, papaya, Jack fruit (didn’t touch the grape) and seeds (black and white sunflower and other smaller ones). It loved to bathe so I’ve gotten it a tray and from what I read it’s important to keep things clean as she easily succumbs to infection,” wrote Geam Liang.

“Does anyone else have any useful experience and sharing on its upkeep? … I’m also not optimistic that it can survive if I were to set it free – assuming it can sustain her flight and not go crashing down and if there were dogs/cats around that would be the end of it.”

Aviculturist Lee Chiu San responded as follows: “The Blue-crowned Hanging-parrot, even though very closely related to the lovebirds, is a nectar feeder. You should raise it the way you raise a lorikeet – which is a messy process. And because you are mixing batches of food for just one little bird, whereas I used to do it for about half a dozen pigeon-sized lorikeets each morning, I don’t know how you are going to get the portions down to manageable sizes. Anyway, here goes, with my recipe for feeding big lories. You can adjust the proportions down accordingly for your little bird.

“The staple diet would be a couple of slices of soft fruit (papaya, apple, grapes, even though I am surprised that you said the bird would not eat any) and a mixture of cooked rice sweetened with nectar mix. How to make nectar mix? Go to a pharmacy and get a can of food for invalids or infants. I use Complan, but I am sure any good baby formula would do. I usually make up enough to fill a beer mug, but there is no way you need that amount for a day’s feeding. If in doubt, make the mixture thinner, not thicker.

“Birds cannot digest baby formula that is too thick. If it is too thin, they simply have to consume more to get the required amount of energy. Then to this mug, add half a teaspoonful of rose syrup. Also stir in about a cup of cooked rice, well mashed up. 
In the case of your bird, I suggest that you pour this lot into an ice-cube tray, freeze the mixture, and defrost one cube to feed it each day. 

“Now, you said that this bird eats sunflower seeds. This is most unusual for a Blue-crowned Hanging-parrot. Are you sure that this is actually the species you have? Could it be possible that you have actually got a pet lovebird that escaped? There are so many different artificially-created breeds of lovebirds in so many colours that you might have been mistaken. 
If you actually have a lovebird, feeding is much simpler. Just go to the nearest pet shop, buy a packet of budgerigar or cockatiel seed of a reputable international brand, and offer it to the bird. You can supplement this with a couple of slices of fruit each day, and that will be all. Plus of course fresh water and a piece of cuttlefish bone to nibble on.” 

Chiu San further added: “About nectar feeding birds. I forgot to add that feeding nectar is messy, and it goes rancid very quickly in our tropical weather. Feeding containers have to be removed and thoroughly cleaned at the end of each day. The birds also splatter the mixture and wipe their beaks on perches and the bars of the cage. All my lories and lorikeets used to be housed in outdoor aviaries which were hosed down daily. 
If Geam Liang does not think the bird will survive if released, I really hope that it is a case of mistaken identity, and that you have a lovebird, rather than a blue-crowned hanging parrot. In our part of the world, all available lovebirds are domestically bred, take to captivity readily, and are easy to feed with commercially available seed mixtures. Yes, and being domestic pets, they would not survive if released.”

Note: Images subsequently sent by Geam Lian as shown above confirms that it is indeed a female Blue-crowned Hanging-parrot.

“When feeding local birds which are unfamiliar with imported fruits such as grapes, it helps to split the fruits to expose the edible parts,” added Chiu San.

Chng Gean Liang
Penang, Malaysia
February 2015

Lee Chiu San
February 2015

8 Responses

  1. James Taylor

    I have kept and bred many Blue-crowns.
    I am presently feeding a chick from day one hatch.
    I feed both lory nectar and lory dry diet along with fruit.
    Whose pictures are posted above?
    Regards, Jim in Victoria BC Canada

  2. Lee Chiu San

    Hi James,

    Glad that you are taking an interest in keeping and breeding the Blue-Crowned Hanging Parrot. It’s a native bird here, so I have tended to leave them in the wild, saving my very limited aviary space for imported Charmosyna lorikeets from Papua New Guinea, which are endangered due to excessive logging in their country.

    However, care of both the Hanging Parrots and Charmosyna lorikeets is very similar, except for one major difference. While Charmosyna (and most other lories and lorikeets for that matter) display very strong pair bonding, the Hanging Parrots, unlike their close cousins the lovebirds, don’t seem to care very much for each other. Except when breeding, you will usually not find them sitting in pairs together, billing and cooing and whispering sweet nothings into each others’ ear coverts.

    One problem we in Singapore have, which you may not experience in Canada, is that Charmosyna lorikeets have to be kept cool. After all, many species are from the highlands. Singapore is right on the equator, but some people with aviaries located under shady trees can keep Charmosyna successfully. However, in years when the weather is noticeably warmer, all breeding stops, and the birds don’t look too happy.

  3. Geam Liang

    Hi James,
    Happy to note that you’re familiar with the Blue Crowns. Mine is a female and my first, so any inputs and advice will be most welcome. As for the nectar, I can’t find any local source here so I’ve ‘made’ some with plain sugar – 4 parts filtered water to 1 part sugar by volume. Question is how best to feed them? dispenser? small dish? I don’t have a dispenser as yet, tried the small shallow dish – not working.. only kept the ants happy. Currently on fruits and seeds (canary and millet)

  4. Lee Chiu San

    All my lorikeets have been very happy to drink their nectar out of cups, the same kind of cups that you can buy in any bird shop. As I have stated earlier, I use rice and milk-based, infant/invalid cereal products as the basis of my nectar mixtures. Some birds do not take to plain sugar water.

    Here in Singapore you can buy special lorikeet nectar feeding mixtures made by Zu-Preem or Purina, but not many shops carry them. While the manufactured products are good, I find that my home-made mixtures work just as well.

    And the birds like flavoured syrups, not just plain sugar water. So far, rose flavour has worked best for me.

    To get a bird unfamiliar with artificial nectar to try it, you can leave a piece of banana or papaya in the nectar, and as the bird nibbles on the fruit, it can taste the nectar, and decide to drink it.

    As to your complaint about ants, well, I did warn that feeding nectar is very messy. So I do hose my aviaries down frequently.

  5. The Official Nerd Bird

    Hi, Im so sorry to hear that she can no longer fly. What led you to believe she would not survive in the wild? Did you manage to bring her in to an avia veterinarian for inspection? If she has an injury, defect, or illness it would probably be better if she got it treated.

    Anyway, Ive been keeping blue crowns for almost 3 years now. We used to have two blue crowned hanging parrots until one, an adult male, got stolen early last year. The remaining bird, which is a juvenile (horned colored beak and no adult plumes but we call it a “she” for now) is still with us and lives as an indoor bird. They ARE quite messy thanks to their nectar diets, but because they are so small, the mess is not as big as you may get from the larger lorikeets. They dont generally like a lot of human contact but our remaining bird is now very affecionate with me and her other caretaker, often sitting on our heads for hours at a time, preening and chirping. She is not a cuddly bird, however, so aside from sitting on us she doesnt like to be petted or stroked etc. She can fly but Ive noticed she is clumsy in small spaces or when she is disoriented for example when she has a conflict with one of the budgies over fruit, then her flight it like a clumsy flutter to the floor. She can fly very well in open spaces, though. She does not get along well with our conure or budgies though it is more a case of them bullying her than vice versa.

    For food I give her a dry lorikeet nectar mix as a staple which is supplemented with wet nectar, soft fruits, and fresh edible flowers once a day. The dry nectar give some “volume” to the excrement also so it doesnt quite sjoot out with the same velocity and helps with the mess. I know some locals feed the birds cooked rice in sugar water but I think that is just empty carbs so if you can wean them on to a more healthy diet it would be better. She really LOVES seeds, not sunflowers, but she will take budgie mix, millet, and safflower, however I wouldnt offer them tpp frequently as they are very fatty and not too nutritious. She gets seed mix only once a week. it is better to buy formulated nectar diets for lories than make your own (especially if you are inexperienced with nectar feeders) cuz almost all the nutrition your bird needs to thrive and grow.

  6. al

    Hi. Good morning. I might too late to post any message in here. But i desperately looking for a male hanging parrot in Singapore. If not a female is fine with me. A friend found the bird at his workplace and gave to me to take care. But i do pity it as it got no friend or partner to spent time with. Before that my sis found a female lovebird and gaveto me to take care. I pity it so i got a male lovebird to pair up. But this hanging parrot is very hard to buy in singapore If anyone know where i can get one in singapore. Please let me know. Deeply appreciated.

  7. Lee Chiu San

    You don’t have to worry about your Blue-Crowned Hanging Parrot being lonely. While the vast majority of parrot species are sociable, the Blue Crowned is NOT one of them.
    When you keep a number in an aviary, except during the breeding season, there is very little interaction between the individual birds. This is what I observed in pet shops back in the days when wild birds were more frequently imported, and also in friends’ aviaries, but not in my own aviaries because I have not kept this species for any length of time.
    This bird you have should be all right on her own.
    Very strangely, some of the parrot genera that do not form strong pair bonds with their own species (from my personal experience Eclectus and Psittacula) do become very tame and affectionate with human beings.

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