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Odd Dusky Lory Behaviour

Expert Question

Hi Jim. This is a weird question. I’m an Aviary Zookeeper and have been for 3 years now and I have noticed that one of our Dusky Lories likes sitting on other lories’ heads. I’ve never seen this behavior before and none of our other keepers have seen it before either. Do you know why they may be doing it? I just find it interesting that I have only seen him doing this to other birds.
Submitted by: Josh C.

Expert Answer

G'day Josh, Apologies for the delayed reply but as I haven't ever observed the behaviour you described I spent some time getting in touch with a buddy of mine, Matt Schmitt from Houston Zoo, and I also checked in with Rosemary Low, one of the world's most experienced Lory keepers. I asked both if they had ever seen the behaviour you described. Unfortunately, neither Matt nor Rosemary has seen a dusky, or any lory, sitting on the head of another - so that makes 4 of us! Rosemary wondered if the Dusky was handraised, in which case we do tend to see quite a few odd behaviours in handraised lories. My own lories that were handraised present some very strange behaviour from time to time that defies explanation. In any case, I can't offer any insights based on personal experience for this one. My only suggestion, which I'm certain that as a keeper you've already considered anyway, is whether the behaviour is resulting in any stress to the poor lory whose head is being used as a perch... If it's just random behaviour with no resulting conflict or stress in the flock then it will likely diminish over time.

Thanks for asking!
Kind Regards from Down Under - Jim McKendry

Jim McKendry
About Jim McKendry

Jim McKendry BTeach BAppSc (Wildlife Biology)

Jim provides consultancy services on parrot behaviour through Parrot Behaviour & Enrichment Consultations ( He holds Bachelor’s degrees in Teaching (ACU) and Applied Science (UQ) and is a Senior Biology and Environmental Sciences teacher. Jim’s approach to education on parrot behaviour aims to connect the behaviours we see amongst psittacines in the wild with those we observe in captivity to best inform environmental arrangement for behavioural success. An Applied Behaviour Analysis approach to assessing behaviour is the foundation of his consultancy assessments on individual parrot clients.

He has worked professionally as an Avian Trainer and Presentations Keeper at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary and since 2005 has delivered a series of annual workshops at the Sanctuary on progressive approaches to companion parrot behaviour and enrichment. From 2009 to 2011 Jim worked as the resident consultant on parrot behaviour and enrichment at Brisbane Bird and Exotics Veterinary Services. He is a professional member of the International Association of Avian Trainers and Educators ( and a member of the World Parrot Trust’s Expert Panel of educators.  Jim writes a regular column, Pet Parrot Pointers, for Australian Birdkeeper Magazine and is an editorial consultant on parrot behaviour for this publication.

Visit Jim’s site on the web at