The dusky lory looks like a bird born from embers


Bec Crew


Bec Crew

Bec Crew is a Sydney-based science communicator with a love for weird and wonderful animals. From strange behaviours and special adaptations to newly discovered species and the researchers who find them, her topics celebrate how alien yet relatable so many of the creatures that live amongst us can be.
By Bec Crew 28 September 2020
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Sporting the colours of freshly molten lava, the dusky lory almost doesn’t look real with its bright orange features breaking through all that sooty black.

THE DUSKY LORY is a smart, boisterous, social bird with a sense of humour. As you might expect, they’re not exactly worried about making a scene – they travel around in large, super-loud groups, and are perfectly happy to hang around with other species of parrots if given the chance.

Hailing from the forests of New Guinea and the neighbouring islands of Batanta, Salawati, and Yapen, the dusky lory (Pseudeos fuscata) spends 70 per cent of each day foraging, seeking out fruit, seeds, flowers buds, nectar, grain, and pollen. They’re known to travel 50 km daily to get their fill, which for some can equate to draining 650 flowers of their nectar each day.

To help them extract nectar from flowers efficiently, dusky lories have tiny hair-like filaments called papillae that run along the end of their tongues. Like a cluster  of delicate siphons, the papillae soak up nectar with ease.

Related: Lorikeets: Four things you didn’t know about them

Lories and lorikeets share this trait, which has earned them the nickname brush-tongued parrots.

The other cool thing about these birds is they have two distinct colour phases. The orange colour phase is by far the most common, but there’s also a rare yellow colour phase, which is a fascinating sight:

(Image credit: David Hosking/Alamy Stock Photo)

Interestingly, two orange-phase parents can produce yellow offspring.

The closest relative of the dusky lory is the cardinal lory (Pseudeos cardinalis) – the only other member of the genus.

Found in the Solomon Islands, Bougainville Island, and some of the islands of the Bismarck Archipelago – a group of islands off the north-eastern coast of New Guinea – the cardinal lory is another striking bird.

Dressed wholly in the bright scarlet colour of the cardinal vestments of the Catholic church, these birds are no striking violets, either:

(Image credit: Aaron Wormus/Wikimedia)

We’ll leave you with this great footage of dusky lories doing what they do best – chatting the house down: