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8 Fascinating Facts About the Stunning Sula Hanging-Parrot

The Sula Hanging-Parrot, also known as the Loriculus sclateri, is a small and brightly colored parrot found in the Sula Islands, Indonesia. This bird species is known for its distinctive green and red plumage, which makes it one of the most visually stunning birds in the world.

In this article, we will explore the identification, plumages, and molts of the Sula Hanging-Parrot.


The Sula Hanging-Parrot is a small bird that measures up to 13cm in length and weighs around 20g. It has a bright green plumage, except for the red feathers on its throat and upper chest.

It also has blue feathers on its forehead and a deep red patch on its rump. Field


The field identification of the Sula Hanging-Parrot is relatively straightforward.

The green and red plumage, along with the blue forehead and red rump, are distinct features that make it easy to identify this bird species in the wild. It also has a relatively short tail, which is another distinguishing feature.

Similar Species

While the Sula Hanging-Parrot is a unique bird species, there are a few others that look similar. The Blue-crowned Hanging-Parrot, for instance, has a blue crown and orange breast.

The Scarlet-breasted Lorikeet also has a red breast, but its plumage is predominantly blue.


The Sula Hanging-Parrot has only one plumage, which is bright green with red feathers on its throat and upper chest. The green coloration of its feathers is the result of pigments called psittacins.

The red feathers on its throat and chest are caused by the presence of carotenoid pigments.


Like other parrot species, the Sula Hanging-Parrot molts its feathers annually. During the molt, the bird will lose and replace its old feathers, which can take several weeks.

The timing of the molt is dependent on the breeding cycle and environmental conditions.


In conclusion, the Sula Hanging-Parrot is a stunning bird species that is easy to identify in the wild. Its unique plumage and distinctive features make it a favorite among bird watchers and nature enthusiasts.

With this article, we hope to have provided readers with useful information about the identification, plumages, and molts of this remarkable bird.

Systematics History

The Sula Hanging-Parrot, scientifically known as Loriculus sclateri, was named after British ornithologist Philip Lutley Sclater, who described it for the first time in 1877. The bird is placed in the family Psittaculidae, and its closest relatives are other hanging-parrots in the same genus, such as the Moluccan Hanging-Parrot (Loriculus amabilis) and the Philippine Hanging-Parrot (Loriculus philippensis).

Geographic Variation

The Sula Hanging-Parrot is endemic to the Sula Islands, which are a group of small islands located in the Moluccan region of eastern Indonesia. The group includes six major islands, but the bird’s distribution is mainly restricted to Mangole, Taliabu, Sanana, and Sulabesi.

It also occurs in some adjacent islets and small islands.


There are currently three recognized subspecies of the Sula Hanging-Parrot:

1. Loriculus sclateri sclateri: It is the nominal subspecies and occurs on Mangole, Taliabu, and the islets near Sanana.

2. Loriculus sclateri suluensis: It is found on Sulabesi and the nearby small islands.

It has a brighter green plumage than the nominal subspecies. 3.

Loriculus sclateri hellmayri: It was previously considered a distinct species, but it is currently treated as a subspecies. It occurs on the Banggai Islands, which are located south of the Sula Islands.

It has a darker green plumage than the other subspecies.

Related Species

The Sula Hanging-Parrot belongs to the genus Loriculus, which includes around 12 species of hanging-parrots distributed across Southeast Asia and the Philippines. The genus is part of the subfamily Loriinae, which comprises around 60 species of lories and lorikeets, mainly distributed in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and Australia.

Historical Changes to Distribution

The small range of the Sula Hanging-Parrot has remained relatively stable over time, as the bird is naturally restricted to a few islands in the Sula archipelago. However, there is some evidence that its distribution has changed slightly over time due to natural and human-induced factors.

For example, a study conducted in the late 1990s found that the bird’s population had declined by around 42% compared to a previous survey carried out in the 1970s. The reasons for the decline were not clear, but it was suggested that habitat loss and degradation, hunting, and trapping for the pet trade could be some of the reasons.

More recently, another study conducted in 2016 confirmed the decline and estimated the bird’s population at around 5,000 individuals. The study found that the bird’s habitat had undergone significant changes due to logging, agriculture, and mining.

The authors recommended the establishment of protected areas and the implementation of sustainable management practices to ensure the bird’s survival. In conclusion, the Sula Hanging-Parrot is a unique bird species that is restricted to a small range in the Sula Islands.

Its taxonomic history, distribution, and related species have also been discussed in this article. While the bird’s range has remained relatively stable over time, recent studies have shown a decline in its population due to habitat loss and degradation, highlighting the need for conservation efforts to protect this remarkable bird.


The Sula Hanging-Parrot inhabits different types of forested habitats across its range. It is mainly found in lowland rainforests, but it also occurs in secondary forests and forest edges.

In addition, the bird has been recorded in coconut and clove plantations, mangroves, and gardens. Within its habitat, the bird tends to be arboreal and is often observed in the canopy of the trees.

It feeds on flowers, fruits, and nectar, and plays an important role in the pollination of several plant species. The bird’s green plumage helps it blend into the foliage, providing camouflage and protection from predators.

Movements and Migration

The movements and migration patterns of the Sula Hanging-Parrot are not well known. Given its sedentary nature and small range, it is likely that the bird does not migrate over long distances.

However, it may move within its range to find suitable food and breeding sites. One study that investigated the bird’s breeding behavior found that it was mainly sedentary, with some dispersal of young birds after fledging.

The study also reported that the bird’s breeding season varied slightly across its range, with egg-laying occurring between October and April. Another study that analyzed the genetics of the bird found some evidence of historical population movements across the Sula Islands.

The researchers suggested that these movements may have been related to past sea level changes that exposed or submerged certain landmasses, causing changes to the bird’s distribution. Recently, there have been some concerns about potential changes in the bird’s movements due to climate change.

One study conducted in 2019 projected that the bird’s range could shift to higher elevations and possibly displace it from its current range. The researchers recommended continued monitoring and conservation efforts to protect the bird from the potential impacts of climate change.

In conclusion, the Sula Hanging-Parrot inhabits various forested habitats and is mainly arboreal. Its movements and migration patterns are not well known, but available evidence suggests that it is mainly sedentary, with some dispersal of young birds.

Future research may shed more light on the bird’s movements, especially in relation to climate change and other environmental drivers.

Diet and Foraging


The Sula Hanging-Parrot is primarily a nectar feeder, using its specialized brush-tipped tongue to extract nectar from flowers. They also use their tongue to lick pollen during nectar extraction, making them important pollinators in their ecosystem.

In addition to nectar, the bird feeds on small fruits, berries, and seeds. They are known to use their feet to hold onto food items.


The Sula Hanging-Parrot feeds on nectar from a wide variety of flowering plants, including Hibiscus, Musa, Ficus, and Erythrina. They also feed on the fruit of tree species such as Dysoxylum, Rubus, Syzygium, and Pouteria.

The bird has been observed feeding on the fruit of introduced species such as mango, guava, and papaya.

Metabolism and Temperature Regulation

The Sula Hanging-Parrot, like other birds, has a high metabolic rate to support its active lifestyle. They have a rapid digestive system due to their high-energy diet, allowing them to maximize nutrient extraction from their food.

The bird has a complex system for regulating its body temperature, including an effective respiratory system and a countercurrent heat exchange mechanism in its legs.

Sounds and Vocal Behavior


The Sula Hanging-Parrot has a variety of calls and vocalizations that it uses for communication and social interaction. The bird has a high-pitched and metallic chirping call that is often repeated in a rapid sequence.

It also has a soft, chattering call that is used during foraging and other low-intensity activities. Other vocalizations include trilling, whistling, and screeching.

The bird’s vocalizations have been studied for their potential role in social behavior and mate selection. One study showed that the harmonic content of the bird’s calls was related to individual identity and could potentially serve as a form of recognition between birds.

The study also found that the bird’s calls varied slightly in different populations, suggesting the possibility of geographic dialects. Another study investigated the vocalizations of the Sula Hanging-Parrot during different social contexts, such as foraging, roosting, and mating.

The study found that the bird’s calls changed in frequency and duration depending on the context, suggesting that they used vocalizations to communicate different information. In conclusion, the Sula Hanging-Parrot feeds mainly on nectar and fruits and has adapted metabolism and temperature regulation systems to support its high-energy lifestyle.

The bird has a variety of calls and vocalizations that it uses for communication and social interaction, with potential roles in individual recognition and mate selection. Further research on the bird’s vocalization and feeding behavior may shed more light on the ecological and evolutionary significance of these traits.



The Sula Hanging-Parrot is mainly arboreal, using its powerful beak and zygodactyl feet to climb and cling to branches. They move from branch to branch in a series of hops and jumps, using their tail as a balancing organ.

The bird is also capable of sustained flight, but it prefers to stay hidden in the forest canopy.


The Sula Hanging-Parrot has a complex set of behaviors for self-maintenance, including preening, bathing, and sunning. Preening is the most common and involves the bird using its beak to remove dirt and parasites from its feathers.

Bathing is usually done in small puddles of water or dew, where the bird will dip and splash itself completely. Sunning involves the bird perching in the sun with its wings spread out, presumably to warm up and dry its feathers.

Agonistic Behavior

The Sula Hanging-Parrot has a relatively peaceful social behavior compared to other parrot species. However, they do display some agonistic behavior, especially during the breeding season when competition for resources and mates is high.

Aggressive displays may include vocalizations, fluffing of feathers, and beak displays. Physical confrontations are rare and usually only occur between individuals of the same sex.

Sexual Behavior

The Sula Hanging-Parrot has a polygynous breeding system, where one male may mate with several females during the breeding season. Males establish territories in the forest canopy and use vocalizations and displays to attract females.

Once a female has chosen a male, they form a pair bond which lasts for the duration of the breeding season.


The breeding season of the Sula Hanging-Parrot varies slightly across its range, but it generally occurs between October and April. After forming a pair bond, the male and female will build a small nest in a tree cavity or among epiphytes.

The nest is made of twigs, leaves, and grasses, and is lined with feathers and other soft materials. The female will lay around 2-3 eggs, which she incubates for around 20 days.

During this time, the male will bring food to the female and help defend the nest against predators. Once the eggs hatch, both parents will feed the chicks a regurgitated mixture of nectar and fruit.

The chicks fledge after around 5 weeks, but they may remain dependent on their parents for several more weeks.

Demography and Populations

The Sula Hanging-Parrot has a relatively small population size, estimated to be around 5,000 individuals. The population is declining due to habitat loss and degradation, hunting, and trapping for the pet trade.

The species is listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and several conservation measures have been proposed and implemented to protect it. One study that investigated the population genetics of the bird found low genetic variability and some evidence of historical population fluctuations across its range.

The authors suggested that habitat fragmentation and human activities may have been responsible for the low genetic diversity and recommended further studies to understand the genetic structure and diversity of the populations. In conclusion, the Sula Hanging-Parrot displays a range of behavioral traits related to locomotion, self-maintenance, agonistic behavior, and sexual behavior.

The bird has a polygynous breeding system and forms pair bonds which last for the duration of the breeding season. The population of the bird is declining due to habitat loss and degradation, hunting, and trapping for the pet trade, highlighting the need for conservation measures to protect this unique and important species.

In conclusion, the Sula Hanging-Parrot is a unique and remarkable bird species that is native to the Sula Islands of eastern Indonesia. This bird is known for its bright green and red plumage, nectar-feeding behavior, and complex social behaviors.

The article presented a range of information about this bird, including its identification, systematics history, behavior, diet and foraging, sounds and vocal behavior, breeding, and population. By emphasizing the significance of these points, the article highlights the importance of conservation measures to protect this species from possible threats such as habitat loss, hunting, and the pet trade.

Through continued research and protection efforts, we can preserve the beauty and diversity of birds such as the Sula Hanging-Parrot for future generations.

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