The Little Lorikeet is a completely green-bodied bird and features a red face, and the only difference in the sexes is that the male features a more bright red on the face, is usually slightly larger than the female and carries a much more pronounced golden brown colouring on the back of the neck.
I had my birds four years before any attempt at nesting was made and although this first attempt was unsuccessful a lot was learnt in relation to their feeding during the time they nested. They were fed fruit cake, bread and milk and on this diet they remained in excellent condition, but it was not enough for them to rear their young. After the first disappointment, plans were started to prepare for the next breeding season and this meant quitting some of the larger birds which also ate the same food as the Lorikeets. In place of these I added a pair of Bleeding Heart Pigeons, Greenwing Pigeons and a pair of Ground Doves – this meant that the Little Lorikeets were the only parrots in the aviary and shared this with the pigeons and a pair of Rails, which were the only ground birds. The aviary size was 16′ x 12′ x 6′ high with a 4′ shelter, the flight was planted with Old Man Saltbush and an Ink Berry bush. The Lorikeets had the choice of various logs and boxes and they selected to nest in a box under the shelter, the measurements of this being 8″ x 6″ x 8″ with a removable top. Peat moss was placed in the box for nesting material.
They started to show an interest in the box about mid-August, laid the first egg on the 18th and by the 22nd had laid four eggs. The eggs were pure white and very rounded at both ends; in fact, they were almost round. The hen commenced incubation on the 20th of August and the male took no part in the incubation, although he did sleep in the box at night. The first chick hatched out in 23 days and three days later there were four young in the box, thus indicating that all eggs were fertile. One of the chicks was a weakling and only survived a week. As soon as the young were hatched I started feeding another mixture which contained malted milk, condensed milk, honey and Bengers food mixed with water. The Bengers food was used one day and the next day Complan was used, and this mixture was fed twice daily until the young became independent. In addition to this they were fed cake, apple and pears. Both birds attended to the feeding of the young. When the chicks are first hatched they are practically naked, but they quickly grow a white down.
After several weeks the nest box started to get very wet and I decided that it had to be changed (and this was made easier by having the box with a removable lid). The nest was cleaned out and the nesting material was replaced with a commercial cat litter, and this was changed every week until the young birds left the nest box. The young birds were in the nest-box for 52 days before attempting to leave, and even then they could only fly short distances; however, plenty of dead Ink Berry had been left in the aviary so that they had plenty of places on which to perch. The first few nights the young birds were returned to the box because the weather had turned very cold, but after the cold spell they camped in the Saltbush each night. For the first week the parent birds still fed the young, after which they started to take the liquid mixture, and by the end of the second week they were completely independent and showed preference for the liquid and soft pears. When the young left the nest they were a dull example of the parent birds, the green on the body was not as bright, the red on the face was not as bright and they were quite a bit smaller in body. The Little Lorikeets have never been seen to take hard seed. Given the right food and conditions they will live for many years in captivity and they certainly are an asset in the aviary.
Reprinted from the January 1973 edition of Bird Keeping in Australia, the official publication of The Avicultural Society of South Australia Inc.