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My friend has a mated pair of Swainson's Lorikeets (Trichoglossus haematodus moluccanus), a subspecies of the Rainbow Lorikeet, that he hopes to breed.

The female is 3 years old, and has just laid her second clutch of eggs since my friend got her. The male is 15 years old and is a proven sire, though with a different, now deceased, female. The birds have sex frequently but the first clutch of eggs were clear, so he's concerned that the male may no longer be fertile. These birds can live to their late 20's, so 15 seems a little young to stop producing sperm. A bird specialist vet examined them recently and said they were both in good health; my friend didn't have any fertility tests done at the time (he says he will if this clutch also turns out to be clear).

Given all of the above, until what age will a male Swainson's Lorikeet typically remain fertile?

  • Just because they can live to their late 20's in captivity doesn't mean that they live anywhere near this length in the wild. Fifteen may seem middle age but it might be very old when considering the species in the wild. – maple_shaft Oct 23 '13 at 12:14
  • These are beautiful birds, they come and drink water from the birdbath on our balcony. They do tend to pair, as mentioned in my answer.. even though they may be mating.. it might be possible the male is not ejaculating – user6796 Oct 23 '13 at 14:14
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Rainbow lorikeets male and females reach sexual maturity at 2 years and are known to be fertile for most of their lives. So it could be a safe guess to assume that this male could remain fertile well into his 20s. This would depend upon his actual individual life expectancy, and health. As failing health is generally a precursor before death, if he is unwell, then this may have affected his fertility.

It would be hasty to assume that one empty clutch means he is no longer fertile. These bids generally pair and mate for life. I am unclear about whether this would affect the fertility between a new pair when a long time mate dies.

There have been difficulties breeding birds raised in captivity, due to behavior problems, as opposed to fertility per se. Also, males can react to other males, even their own offspring within an aviary. It would be hard to make an actual diagnosis, or well educated guess, if there is a problem and what it may be without more information.

If the next clutch is empty, perhaps then your friends could seek some advice. The fertility problem could also be with the female.

Rainbow Lorikeets can be very long-lived. Females can breed until they are into their twenties and males can retain their fertility even longer. In Australia, a female Red-collared was 35 and breeding until 12 months previously. (1)

rainbow lorikeet
image courtesy of wikipedia One of my favorite birds, we have always had them in our garden, wherever we have lived.


References:

  • (1) Northern Parrots Rainbow Lorikeet factsheet

  • (2) Latitude 42 (2011) Pest Risk Assessment: Rainbow Lorikeet (Trichoglossus haematodus). Latitude 42
    Environmental Consultants Pty Ltd. Hobart, Tasmania. PDF

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