It's 8:00 a.m. as I make my way under the overgrown Cape Honeysuckle to the door. I put the large Medeco key in the slot and the familiar loud click alerts the residents. There is a silence in their world as I step inside and close the door behind me.
Steep mountains, deep valleys, misted forests, and headhunters, is the dangerous world they instinctively know. As a result, they show no fear as I make my way to the third isle fourth door on the right.
I open the door and there he is, a large dark powerful male already strutting towards me. He looks menacing and confident as he moves in my direction his beady eyes leaving no doubt as to his intentions.
I can close the door and retreat or I can stand my ground. As he gets within range I lunge for him. He deftly avoids my grasp as if he has done this hundreds of times. Another lunge, he bobs and weaves making my fast reflexes look slow. Then before I can recoil for another lunge, the expected attack happens.
His strength, accuracy, and speed are impressive. I still mange to get him in a headlock, but not before he reaches around and grabs me with his beak. I throw him off of me but he is back in a flash of color and speed. This time the headlock leaves no room for grabbing my hand and he relaxes. I gently rub the feathers on the side of his neck and his orange eyes begin to show the attention he is looking for. After a few minutes of neck and head feather massage he is done for the morning. He's had enough contact with that strange species that has no feathers and can only fly with the help of a machine. Time to jump off the hand and head for the high perch in the back of the cage. This is where he will stay until I pour nectar into his bowl.
This is of course a male melanistic Stella's lorikeet. He is three years old and has been unlucky in finding a mate. In our morning mock confrontation, he never bites or even pinches with his beak. He is more careful around my hands than many hand raised lories I have handled. He is parent raised and completely tame. I imported some Stella's in 1996 and found that even imports after a few weeks were very trusting. They have taken to captivity very well. They make much less noise than a parakeet. They are hauntingly beautiful and breed very well, if set up properly.
Charmosyna papou goliathina
These birds are called Stella's lorikeets, but that is really an incorrect name. The true Stella's Lorikeets are Charmosyna papou stellae. The birds we have in the United States are really Mount Goliath Lorikeets. The scientific name is Charmosyna papou goliathina. I believe the difference is very slight and the goliaths are bigger. I have only seen one true Stella's Lorikeet. One cannot tell the difference by just comparing one bird to many others.
To the best of my knowledge these lories were first imported commercially into the USA in 1976. My first pair came from progeny of that importation. I purchased them in 1987. I still vividly remember when my first pair arrived from Washington State. They were in a square box with a strong smell of fresh apples. In San Diego we do not get apples with that quality of taste or smell. Even in the box these lorikeets were unafraid. They were a breeding pair of very large red Stella's Lorikeets. I put them in an aviary with a cockatiel box. They were very calm and immediately started to nest in the cockatiel box. They were copulating the next day and within in two weeks there were two eggs in the nest. "Great we are going to have baby Stella's!" One can imagine my excitement. ..
Then the bad news after about a week, we had broken eggs. This cycle repeated itself for three more months. It was at this point that I almost abandoned this species. Then I read an article in the AFA about different kinds of nest boxes.
There was one box mentioned in the article that had some type of ramp. I decided to make my own nest box for these birds. After several very frustrating prototypes, the nest box that these birds love came into existence.
The nest box front is a half Oak log split vertically. I bought a 2 _"drill bit that cost about $50 back in 1987. I use a heavy-duty drill press and it takes about hour of drilling to get through each log. The oak is hard and the drill motor will over-heat without many stops to let the motor cool down. The log front is attached to the back of the aviary high up on the inside of the cage. The hole in the wire is cut to match up to the hole in the log. Attached to the hole on the back of the aviary is a 45-degree ramp. The ramp and nest chamber is made of cedar fencing. The ramp is about 15" long and 6"square. The ramp leads to a nesting chamber that is 6" wide 12" long and 6" high. The nesting chamber has a lid that lifts up for easy inspection. Problem solved. No more broken eggs. I was lucky in guessing what design these exotic birds might like. I think luck has a lot to do with raising any birds, especially parrots.
Each nesting chamber has about two inches of pine shavings covering the bottom. Occasionally when it is hot, a nest box will have mites. Since the box is made of cedar wood, there are very few times that our babies have had mites. On the occasion when this happens, we mix cedar shavings with the pine shavings. The cedar shavings solve the mite problem.