Written by Kalvin
The hanging parrot family (Loriculus) consists of thirteen species including Blue-crowned, Ceylon, Flores, Green, Green-fronted, Maroon-rumped, Moluccan, Orange-fronted, Philippine, Sangihe, Sula, Vernalm and the Yellow-throated hanging parrot.
Hanging parrots come from South and Southeast India, Sri-Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Borneo, the Philippines, and some Indonesian Islands.
Blue-crowned hanging parrots are found in Southern Thailand, Western Malaysia, Singapore, Sumatra, and Borneo. They inhabit forests, forest edges, secondary growth, marshland, bamboo thickets, mangroves, coconut groves, gardens, and orchards.
Quiet birds with a gentle nature and melodic fluting call, Blue-crowned hanging parrots were once widely kept in aviculture. Unfortunately, because of their diet and habits, they have almost died out in captivity.
Their cage needn't be large; a cage around six feet by three feet is recommended although keepers (including myself) use smaller with success. It should be easily dismantled to be cleaned and contain a variety or natural branches of various sizes. As their name suggests, they spend a lot of time hanging from the cage bars so wire sides and top are essential; if there is a risk of rodents getting into the room where they're kept, then it is a good idea to have double wiring to prevent their feet from being chewed by rodents as they sleep.
As they are prone to fungal ailments, strict hygiene is needed; perches and the area around food bowls need regular cleaning as they become quite soiled. As they're fruit eaters, their diet makes them similar to softbills in their cage care. Their faeces is almost liquid and can be squirted on walls and out of the cage, making it harder to keep hygiene levels high. Acrylic sides can be added to the cage to stop them squirting out of the cage.
The substrate used needs to be carefully thought about. It needs to be absorbent, safe, and hygienic. Paper is often used although I found that it got difficult to clean as the faeces soaked through, making the paper hard to remove. Wood shavings would be more absorbent but are light so easily blown around when they fly. I have recently started using wood based cat litter; it comes in a pellet form that expands when wet absorbing any liquid and showing clearly any areas that need cleaning. I change dirty patches daily, doing a full change of the litter weekly.
In the wild, Blue-crowned hanging parrots mainly eat fruits, nectar, buds, flowers, seeds, and occasionally small insects. This should be considered when keeping them in captivity and replicated as close as possible. They should be offered fruit and vegetables daily, as well as nectar. Millets, canary grass seed, niger, and groats should also be offered on occasion either as they are or sprouted. When feeding these, the birds should be closely observed as overfeeding can lead to obesity and their digestive systems aren't developed to eat too much dry matter.
Nectar comes in many forms. To offer fresh flowers daily to provide them with sufficient amounts is implausible because of the large amount needed and the cost involved. Instead feed companies have developed the next best thing, artificial nectar, which can come in liquid form that is diluted in water or powder form that is either offered dry or mixed in water to make the nectar.
Fruits and vegetables that can be offered include; carrots, grapes, apples, pears, peaches, nectarines, plums, papaya, cucumber, cantaloupe, sweet potato, cabbage, sprouted seeds, runner beans, mango, pomegranate, cooked brown rice, tomato, banana, orange, strawberries, kiwi, cherry, broccoli, custard apples (cherimoya), and figs. I've fed a wide range of these to my Blue-crowns and found that pomegranate, cherimoya, apple, banana, and grapes are a firm favorite with them both.
Blue-crowned hanging parrots are relatively easy to breed and it's often successfully achieved. A wide variety of fruits and vegetables should be offered prior to breeding along with mealworms, insectivore mix, canary or finch seed, and egg food. They should be offered with a nest box for budgies or slightly bigger; boot boxes are often suggested as their "L" shape stops the possibility of the parents jumping into the nest onto the eggs or chicks. The bottom should be lined with a thin layer of wood shavings and the parents should be provided with willow twigs, ivy, and other leafy material and pieces of bark, with which they'll make their nest. Clutches are usually two to four eggs in size, which are laid at two-day intervals. The hen will sit on the eggs once the final one is laid, where she will be fed by the male. Incubation lasts around 21 days. The babies will be reared by the parents and fledge at 35 days.
Blue-crowned hanging parrots are intriguing birds to keep, fun to watch, and pleasant to listen to. Because of their rarity in captivity it's suggested that none should be kept as pet birds but should be kept as breeders to help establish them in aviculture once again. Unlike most other hand-reared birds, hanging parrots tend not to stay tame after weaning.
For more information regarding the care of hanging parrots or if you are interested in helping to establish them in aviculture, you can contact me, or get in touch with Ron Kasper of the Hanging Parrot and Fig Parrot International Conservancy at their website.