Red Lory and Coconut Lorikeet – courtship behaviour

posted in: Interspecific, Parrots | 2

Through the courtesy of Wong Weng-Fai, we obtained Waikai Yeong’s animated gif of 100+ photos showing the courtship behaviour between a Red Lory (Eos bornea) and a Coconut Lorikeet, also known as Rainbow Lorikeet (Trichoglossus haematodus) documented at Singapore’s Bishan Park. Due to technicalities we are not able to post it here. However, selected images are included in this post.

Aviculturist Lee Chiu San provides the following account:

“In aviculture, some breeders do hybridise the two species to get birds with unusual colours, and the offspring are often sold in pet shops. And as often happens with hybrid offspring, there is considerable variation between individuals.

“Which brings me to another point – the Pohnpei (also known as the Ponape) lorikeet (Trichoglossus rubiginosus).

“In the late 1980s there were many more imports of wild-caught parrots into Singapore, and specimens of the Pohnpei lorikeet did show up in the pet shops. The bird traders brought in many unusual species from really out-of-the way places. Pohnpei (or Ponape) is in Micronesia, quite a distance north of Papua New Guinea.

“I looked at quite a number of Pohnpei lorikeets, and could not help noticing that they bore a remarkable resemblance to some of the Red Lory/Rainbow Lory hybrids that were being commercially produced. Their basic colour was red, but overlaid with the black bars on the chest that the colour variety haematodus haematodus of the Rainbow Lorikeet displays.

“There are many different colour varieties and races of the Rainbow Lorikeet, some with bars, and some without.

“I have often wondered if the Pohnpei lorikeet is simply a natural hybrid of the Red Lory and the Rainbow Lorikeet?

“Though Pohnpei is a long, long distance from the mainlands where both species are found, there are islands dotting the seas in between. Could birds that lost their way, or were blown off-course during tropical storms, have ended up in Micronesia, and, not finding mates of the same species, settled there and hybridised to produce what we know today as Pohnpei Lorikeets?”

Waikai Yeong & Lee Chiu San
6th May 2018

This post is a cooperative effort between Birds, Insects N Creatures Of Asia and BESG to bring the study of birds and their behaviour through photography and videography to a wider audience.


2 Responses

  1. Jim Taylor

    I have owned a few Green-nape/red lory hybrids and they look nothing like a Pohnpei lory. In general lory hybrids are messy mixtures of colours with poorly defined borders.
    Lories breed with any other lories – even King parrots.
    If I had to make a guess I would say that a Pohnpei is a colour mutation of an Eos species or maybe a Cardinal lory. There has been some recent DNA work WRT who is related to what with the lories and even a major reorganization of what is a species and what is a sub-species WRT the rainbow group.
    The cardinal is no longer a Chalcopsitta. It is a Pseudeos along with the Dusky.
    So every lory book available is out of date!

  2. Lee Chiu San

    Jim, as I said, there is considerable variation in the coloration of the various Red/Coconut lory hybrids that I have seen. Some of them definitely looked like Pohnpei lories, being basically red but with clearly barred chests. I suppose that the origin of the Pohnpei lory can only be settled through proper DNA sequencing. We will know the answer then.
    Interesting that you should say the Cardinal Lory is no longer classified in the genus Chalcopsitta. I have never kept birds of that genus, even though I was sorely tempted to because of their nice temperaments as pets.
    But, houses in Singapore are close together, and that genus is notorious for having noisy members. In fact, I would say that the vaious Eos lories do not sound particularly pleasant, in my opinion less so than the Lorius lories, which, even though larger, tend to spend more time whistling and singing rather than making unpleasant noises.


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