This lori is the least colorful of its kind, and one of the least of all parrots (along with coracopsis) since it is almost entirely black except for the tail. It is a large lori, which measures 32 cm and weighs 230 to 280 grams, the males being heavier than the females.
Most feathers, however, have purple highlights, which are visible only in the sun. The neck feathers have a very particular shape, long, thin and pointed. This type of feather is found in all four species of the genus. The rump feathers are speckled with blue, and the undertail feathers are red and yellow.
The iris is brown, circled in yellow in some birds. The beak and legs are black, as is the band of bare peri-ophthalmic skin.
Males are larger than females, with larger heads and beaks (this distinction does not apply to the insignis subspecies, however).
Immatures have a few red feathers dotted among the black feathers. The periophthalmic circle and cere are white, and the iris black.
Chalcopsitta atra bernsteini. Adults differ from the nominal species in coloring: black remains the color of these lorises, but they have dark red feathers on the inner thighs, and, in some birds, purple feathers on the forehead. The lores are purple too.
The breast shows a dark red sheen, as do the underwing, and a small area on the curvature of the wing is red. The blue of the rump is more intense than that of the nominal species. The base of the tail is dark red, and the black end is edged with yellow. The undertail feathers are yellowish gray.
Chalcopsitta atra insignis (lori rajah). Adults are striking in appearance, with a scarlet forehead and lores, as are the underwing, wing curvature, and thighs. The contrast between this bright red and the glossy black of the rest of the body gives this lori great beauty. The periophthalmic circle is gray and not black as in the nominal species, and it is slightly smaller. There is no, or very little, difference between male and female. It weighs 200 to 220 grams, and measures 30 cm.
Immatures are extremely similar to adults of C. a. bernsteini, except for the periophthalmic circle, white instead of black, and the red underwing. They have very little red on the forehead and lores, the thighs are partly dark red.
The nominate race is found in Irian Jaya (western New Guinea), on the western part of the Vogelkop peninsula, as well as on the islands of Batanta and Salawati. C. a. bernsteini lives in Misol, and west of Irian Jaya. Finally, C. a. insignis occupies the eastern part of Vogelkop, Amberpon Island, and the Onin and Bomberai peninsulas. It seems probable that the species interbreed in the Vogelkop peninsula and on the island of Misol. Rosemary Low even raises the possibility that the bernsteini subspecies is in fact a hybridization of atra and insignis.
Black lorises frequent coconut forests and flowering trees. They are found in open habitats, such as coastal regions and savannahs, grassy plains or in lowlands on the edges of humid forests. In Salawati, bishop described them as being more common in high mangroves and coastal swamps than in drier interior forests (Forshaw, 1989). They are nomadic outside the breeding season, and are sometimes found in large groups, associated with mynahs, foraging together in flowering trees. Little is known about their reproduction in the wild, but courtship behavior has been observed in January and February, and males in breeding condition have been captured in April and December. Its world population is estimated at 50,000 individuals. This number is probably stable, but the lack of data does not allow us to be certain.
It is an unusual lori in captivity. The insignis subspecies is rare, and the bernsteini subspecies almost non-existent. In France, the census of the Lori Club of France for the year 2003 and published in the June 2004 review of the CDE counts 29 birds, 13 of which live in isolation, and 16 constitute 8 breeding pairs. The black lori is relatively quiet (for a Chalcopsitta), but very lively and curious by nature. It can occasionally be aggressive with other birds, so we prefer to isolate pairs during the breeding season, depending on the size of the aviary. Like all lorises, he loves baths. Reproduction is not difficult as long as the optimal conditions for housing and food are met. The couple will be given a 40x20x30 cm nest. The laying is of them eggs, the incubation period lasts 25 days. When hatching, the young weigh about 6 grams, and are covered with a whitish down. Bill and legs are very dark brown. The young leave the nest at b
ut from 70 to 80 days. Hand-reared chicks are weaned around the fiftieth day. For chick growth tables, cf. Rosemary Low “Hancock House Encyclopedia of the Lories”.
“Hancock House Encyclopedia of the Lories”, Rosemary Low, ed. Hancock House, 1998.
“Lories & Lorikeets, the brush-tongued parrots”, Rosemary Low, ed. TFH, 1977
“Handbook of the Lories and Lorikeets”, Roger Sweeney, ed. TFH, 1993 “Parrots, A Guide to Parrots of the World”, Juniper and Parr, ed. Yale University Press, 1998
“Parrots of the World”, Joseph Forshaw, 1973