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Discover the Fascinating Behavior and Breeding of Cardinal Lories

Cardinal Lory: A Vibrant Species of the Parrot Family

Birdwatching is a popular hobby for many people around the world, and one species that bird enthusiasts are likely to come across is the Cardinal Lory, also known as the Red Lory or the Blood-red Lory. These stunning creatures are a type of parrot, and are easily recognized by their striking red feathers.

In this article, we will explore the identification of the Cardinal Lory, as well as their plumages and molts.


Field Identification

If you happen to spot a Cardinal Lory while out birdwatching, you wont soon forget it. The birds vibrant red feathers make it one of the most eye-catching species in the parrot family.

The Cardinal Lory is about 12 inches long, with a wingspan of 6-7 inches. Males and females look the same, with the exception of their size.

Males are usually larger and have a longer beak. Cardinal Lories have a relatively short and blunt tail compared to other parrots.

Similar Species

The Cardinal Lory is sometimes confused with the Red Lory, another species of parrot that is native to Indonesia. While the two birds look similar, there are some noticeable differences.

The Red Lory has a brighter red coloration on its chest and belly, and a blue patch of feathers on its cheeks. It also has a longer tail than the Cardinal Lory.


Cardinal Lories have a striking appearance, characterized by their bright red feathers. However, these birds have more than one plumage.

As they mature, their feathers can change slightly in color and pattern. The plumage of a Cardinal Lory can be broken down into four different types:

Juvenile Plumage – When they are young, Cardinal Lories have a predominantly green plumage, with patches of yellow on their head and blue on their wings.

Intermediate Plumage – At around 6-8 months of age, the birds head begins to turn red. The yellow patches on their head also become more pronounced.

The wings are still primarily blue, but the feathers on the chest start to turn red. Adult Plumage – Once fully matured (at approximately 18-24 months of age), Cardinal Lories have solid red feathers on most of their body, with the exception of their wings and tail.

The wings still have blue feathers, and the tail is green. Eclipse Plumage – Some Cardinal Lories change their plumage dramatically for a short period of time each year, known as the eclipse phase.

During this time, their feathers turn a duller shade of red, making them easier to blend in with their surroundings.


Like all parrots, Cardinal Lories periodically go through molting, where they lose their old feathers and grow new ones. Molting occurs annually, usually in the fall.

During molting, Cardinal Lories may look a little more ragged than usual, as they lose feathers and grow new ones. Molting is a natural phenomenon for birds, and does not usually cause any harm.

As their feathers grow back, they will regain their vibrant red coloration. In conclusion, the Cardinal Lory is a fascinating and beautiful species of the parrot family.

With their striking red colors and unique plumages, they are a favorite among birdwatchers. If you happen to spot one of these delightful creatures while out on a walk, take a moment to appreciate their stunning appearance.

Systematics History of Cardinal Lories

Cardinal Lories, also known as Red Lories, Blood-red Lories, and Cardinal Parrot, are members of the parrot family, known for their vibrant red plumage. These birds are found in the forests of Indonesia, and they have been studied and researched for several years, with new discoveries and revisions being made from time to time.

This article will discuss the systematics history of Cardinal Lories, which includes their geographic variation, subspecies, and related species, as well as changes to their distribution over time.

Geographic Variation

As with many species, the geographic variation of Cardinal Lories is evident, with different populations of the species exhibiting various physiological, morphological, and genetic differences. Cardinal Lories are found in the Indonesian archipelago, across several islands, and there are observable differences in their colors, sizes, and beak shapes among populations.

For example, the Lories found on Sulawesi Island have a slightly darker red plumage, with black markings that are less evident than in other populations. Similarly, the Lories found in Seram Island have a slightly smaller beak than their counterparts in other regions, and their plumage is reddish-orange, with distinct and narrower black markings.

Meanwhile, the Lories found in Buru have a deep-red or maroon coloration, with the black markings being the most distinct and pronounced among all populations.


Several subspecies of Cardinal Lories have been identified, usually named after the islands or regions where they are found. These subspecies are distinguished mainly by their physical characteristics and plumage variations.

Some notable subspecies include:

1. Pseudeos cardinalis carneiceps: found in Tanimbar and Babar Islands, with a slightly smaller body size and darker red plumage than the nominate subspecies.

2. Pseudeos cardinalis aruensis: found in the Aru Islands, with a reddish-orange and maroon plumage coloration and a slightly reduced size compared to the nominate subspecies.

3. Pseudeos cardinalis pelewensis: found in the Palau Islands, with a deeper red and maroon coloration on their plumage and smaller body size compared to the nominate subspecies.

Related Species

The Cardinal Lory is one of several species of Lories, which also includes the Black Lory, the Rainbow Lory, and the Blue-capped Lory. All these species share certain physiological and physical characteristics, including their conical beak shape, zygodactyl feet, strong vocalizations, and bright plumage.

However, they also differ from each other in several ways, such as their coloration, size, and pattern of feather colors.

Historical Changes to Distribution

There have been several changes to the distribution of Cardinal Lories over time, with some populations being extirpated or going extinct due to various factors such as habitat loss, hunting, and invasive species. For example, in the 1970s and 1980s, many individuals of Cardinal Lories were captured and exported to the pet trade, causing a decline in their population across their native range.

Several conservation initiatives are being undertaken to preserve Cardinal Lories and their habitats. National parks have been established in many regions to protect birds from logging and deforestation, and many communities are involved in eco-tourism programs that help preserve these birds and their habitats.

Additionally, breeding programs in captivity have been established, allowing for the preservation of these birds and, therefore, increasing their numbers. In conclusion, the systematics history of Cardinal Lories is rich and varied, with several subspecies and regional variations in plumage color, beak shape, and body size.

Despite their striking appearance, these birds face several risks, including habitat loss, hunting, and captivity, that threaten their viability. Nonetheless, through conservation initiatives and careful management, including captive breeding programs, these birds will hopefully continue to thrive in their native environments, delighting bird lovers for generations to come.

Habitat and Movements of Cardinal Lories

Cardinal Lories, also known as Red Lories, are one of the most vibrant and recognizable parrot species in the world. These birds are a highly sought-after species in the pet trade, but they are also fascinating to observe in their natural habitat.

This article will explore the habitat and movements of Cardinal Lories, including their range, habitat preferences, and migratory behaviors.


Cardinal Lories are native to the Indonesian archipelago, specifically the Maluku and West Papua provinces. These islands are home to tropical rainforests and lowland forests that provide the perfect habitat for these birds.

They are most commonly found in primary forest habitats and have also been observed in disturbed and secondary forests. One important aspect of their habitat preference is the availability of foods these birds can be found in areas where their primary food sources, such as nectar, pollen, and fruits, are abundant.

They have a particular taste for the fruits of fig trees, which are one of their favorite and most commonly found food sources. In addition, they are known to forage on the ground to find seeds, nuts, and insects.

Movements and Migration

Cardinal Lories are not known to regularly migrate long distances. They are believed to be sedentary and stay within a particular range or region throughout the year.

However, some movements within their range are observed, especially during breeding season and drying periods.

Breeding Season

Breeding season for Cardinal Lories varies depending on the region and availability of food sources. They typically breed from October to January in lowland forests and from May to August in mountain forests.

They make vocalizations and display different physical behaviors, such as courtship feeding, head nodding, and wing-flapping, to attract mates. Once they have chosen a nest, they become territorial and will protect their chosen site fiercely.

Drying Periods

When there is a drought or a significantly reduced food supply, Cardinal Lories will temporarily move to areas with more abundant food sources. They may also move in search of suitable breeding sites, especially during the breeding season.

Although these birds are not migratory in the traditional sense, they are known to make movements within their range based on food availability and breeding behavior. Conservation and

Habitat Restoration

The habitat of Cardinal Lories is continuously threatened by deforestation, hunting and capture for the pet trade, and invasive species. As these birds rely heavily on forests for survival, habitat destruction poses a significant threat to their population.

Conservation efforts in the form of protected areas, habitat restoration, and public awareness campaigns have been implemented to mitigate these threats and provide a suitable habitat for these birds.

Protected Areas

Several national parks have been established throughout the islands where Cardinal Lories exist to protect them and their habitat. These areas are regularly patrolled to prevent hunting, capture for the pet trade, and habitat loss.

Habitat Restoration

Many environmental organizations and researchers are working to conduct habitat restoration projects and research to determine the best practices for maintaining the forest environments that Cardinal Lories rely on. These projects involve replanting previously cleared forests and re-connecting fragmented habitats to promote natural breeding and foraging behaviors of birds.

Public Awareness Campaigns

Public education and awareness campaigns are also underway to promote the importance of forest conservation and reducing poaching for the pet trade. These programs involve incorporating conservation education in school curriculums, drafting and enforcing hunting and trade bans, and raising awareness across social media and news outlets.

In conclusion, the habitat preference and movement of Cardinal Lories highlight their adaptability and flexibility when it comes to food availability and other environmental factors. Although these birds are not migratory in the traditional sense, they do make seasonal and temporary movements in search of better food sources and breeding opportunities.

The preservation of suitable habitats for Cardinal Lories is essential to maintain their populations and prevent further endangerment of this beautiful species.

Diet and Foraging of Cardinal Lories

Cardinal Lories are known for their striking red plumage and their inquisitive, social nature. However, they are also fascinating creatures when it comes to their diet and foraging behaviors.

This article will explore the feeding habits of these birds, including their feeding behaviors, diet, and metabolism. We will also explore their vocalization and vocal behavior.


Cardinal Lories have a unique beak structure, which allows them to eat specialized foods. They have a long, slender beak that is useful in extracting nectar and pollen from flowers.

They also have a muscular tongue that is used to extract these foods from the inside of flowers. These birds are adapted to a nectarivorous diet but are known to supplement their diet with other foods when necessary.

Feeding Behavior

Feeding behavior varies between individuals and locations. These birds have been observed feeding in groups or alone in the wild.

They often forage for food in the treetops. They use their beaks to pierce flower corollas and extract nectar or sap, which is then swallowed, providing necessary nutrition.

In addition to nectar and pollen, Cardinal Lories feed on various fruits, including figs, bananas, and papayas.


Cardinal Lories are known for their mainly nectarivorous feeding behavior. They have adapted to eat a wide variety of flowers, preferring to dine on a particular type of flower, depending on their region.

Their diet also includes pollen, fruits, insects, and seeds. Although these birds are capable of digesting a variety of food types, nectar and pollen provide up to 75% of their daily food intake.

Metabolism and Temperature Regulation

Their specialized diet has led to the evolution of adaptations to regulate their metabolism and maintain body temperature effectively. During feeding, these birds have high metabolic rates, which help them absorb the necessary nutrients.

However, their body temperature is kept relatively low, particularly during prolonged periods when their diet may be scarce. Their body temperature may also fluctuate, depending on the ambient temperature.

They have developed several mechanisms for maintaining their body temperature, including increased respiratory rates, energy conservation, and huddling together.

Sounds and Vocal Behavior


Cardinal Lories are vocal birds and are known for their extensive vocal repertoire. They are capable of producing a wide range of sounds which include continuous chatter, loud and harsh cackles, and high-pitched whistles.

They have a complex communication system where their vocalizations serve as a means of maintaining social bonds, territorial defense, and mating behaviors. They produce a series of sounds when threatened, including hissing and screaming, to warn the group of impending danger.

They also use songs and melodies, which are believed to serve as territorial warnings or mating calls. During courtship, the males make particular vocalizations, including loud screams and trilling sounds, to attract and keep the attention of females.

Cardinal Lories have developed specialized vocal organs, including a syrinx, which allows them to produce a wide range of sounds, including complex melodies. In conclusion, Cardinal Lories are fascinating birds that exhibit unique adaptations for feeding and vocalizations.

Their nectarivorous diet and feeding behavior have allowed them to adapt to their tropical forest habitats. They also have evolved the necessary adaptations to maintain their body temperature, especially during scarcity of food.

These birds have an extensive vocal repertoire, with vocalizations serving various purposes such as communication, warning, or territoriality. Understanding these behaviors and adaptations are essential to conserving these beautiful birds populations and preserving their natural habitats.


Breeding, Demography, and Populations of Cardinal Lories

Cardinal Lories, also known as Red Lories, are charming and attractive parrots that have become increasingly popular in recent years among avian enthusiasts. Besides their striking physical appearance, they possess fascinating behavioral patterns, unique breeding behaviors, and intriguing populations characteristics that make them an exciting subject of study.

This article explores the behavior, breeding, demography, and populations of Cardinal Lories.



Cardinal Lories typically move through the trees using their feet, gripping the bark while moving headfirst or backwards. They also have a specialized tail musculature that helps them balance and maneuver through the trees.


Cardinal Lories are avid self-maintainers. They take frequent baths and preen their feathers carefully, using their beak and tongue.

They also clean their plumage by rubbing feathers together, which helps remove dust, debris, and dried food.

Agonistic Behavior

Cardinal Lories display agonistic behavior toward each other, especially during the breeding season. They may attack or chase each other, particularly when attempting to secure a partner or a breeding site.

Sexual Behavior

Cardinal Lories are mostly monogamous during the breeding season and stay mated for up to two years, although some may mate for life. The females lay two eggs per clutch, which are incubated by both parents and hatch after 24-25 days.

The parents feed their offspring by regurgitating food, and the chicks fledge approximately 70 days after hatching.


Cardinal Lories have a unique breeding system that involves the male and female cooperating to build their nest. The nesting site may be a suitable tree cavity or a hole excavated in softwood with the beak.

The nest building requires about one week. The female lays the eggs, and both the male and female share the incubation duties, sitting on the eggs in shifts of 20-40 minutes.

The chicks hatch after three weeks, and both parents care for the nestlings. During the breeding season, they become highly territorial, occupying breeding territories of up to 2 hectares.

They usually mate for life, although some birds may change mates at the beginning of each breeding season. Cardinals Lories may produce a second clutch in a non-breeding season if the environmental conditions and available nutrition are favorable.

Demography and Populations

Cardinal Lories have shown significant declines in the wild due to habitat loss (deforestation) and the pet trade. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has listed the birds as near-threatened due to thought to have a declining population trend.

There are ongoing conservation initiatives, including captive breeding programs, habitat restoration projects, and outreach programs to populations living in cardinal lories’

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