Rosemary Low. 1998. Hancock House, Blaine, Washington. 432 pp., 175 color photographs, numerous maps and tables. ISBN 0-88839-413-6. Cloth, $70.00; Limited collector's edition, $300.00.—Rosemary Low spent 10 years in the production of this important work. It is not a rewrite of her 1977 Lories and Lorikeets, but rather is a completely new book. The collector's edition is limited to 100 copies and has a special green binding with gold lettering and comes with a signed and numbered print of a Red-chinned Lorikeet (Charmosyna rubrigularis) by wildlife artist Gamini Ratnavira. The print is suitable for framing but is not one of Ratnavira's better pieces. The regular edition has a beautiful color cover depicting a family of Red-collared Lories (Trichoglossus haematodus rubritorquis) painted by Australian artist Rachel Lewis. Both editions are printed on high-quality paper.
The Encyclopedia is divided into four parts. Part 1, “Alphabetical Listing of Topics,” includes more than 90 listings, with topics ranging from lories in art to lories in zoo exhibits. In between are such diverse subjects as CITES, field studies, and the reproductive span of lories. These topics are listed alphabetically and are really quite informative, as an encyclopedia should be.
Part 2, “Lory Species Accounts,” takes up 238 of the book's 432 FPAGE. Low's accounts of the 53 lory species are written in an interesting and personal style. She combines scientific observations with ornithological, avicultural, and personal experiences. The species accounts are very detailed and describe the adults as well as the immature birds, sexual dimorphism, if any, and subspecies descriptions. Also included are the topics of natural history and aviculture. Under these headings such things as range, habits, nesting, status in the wild and in captivity, breeding data, and chick development are covered. A tremendous amount of avicultural detail is provided for the more common species. It is unfortunate that the color photographs were not interspersed with the text for each species. Of course, grouping them all in the center certainly cut printing costs, but it would have been nice had each photo appeared next to its respective descriptive text. In many cases, the photos are spectacular. Some of the head studies are especially nice. Most notable are the Kuhl's Lory (Vini kuhlii) on page 103 and the Blue-streaked Lory (Eos reticulata) on page 115. There are a couple of interesting photos of New Guinea tribesmen, including one depicting a medicine man's headdress that contains, among other things, the skins of Josephine's (Charmosyna josefinae) and Yellow-billed (Neopsittacus musschenbroekii) lorikeets.
Part 3, “Lorikeets in Australian Gardens,” is a brief six-page contribution from a variety of Australians on the lories in their gardens and parks. Low makes a plea here for the use of natural shrubs and trees for attracting lories into yards rather than the less-than-ideal practice of offering sugar water at feeders. A list of the appropriate plants is included.
Part 4, “Gazetteer,” alphabetically lists the various islands in the range of lories and the species that occur there. Like the previous section, this one is small, consisting of only five FPAGE. It would probably be most useful to the traveler in Indonesia as a quick reference for species likely to be encountered at any given location. Ten FPAGE of references follow this last part.
Anyone with an interest in parrots should have Low's Encyclopedia of the Lories in their library. The detailed tables and charts of mass gains may be most useful to aviculturists, but they also will appeal to the person interested in the natural history of these beautiful birds. This volume is the best treatment of the Loriinae to date.