Eclectus Parrot Info
Product Code: Info Parrots
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Introduction to Eclectus Parrot
- The Eclectus Parrot, an extremely colorful, easily tamed, and social bird. They’re large parrots growing up to 15 inches in length. There are actually nine subspecies of Eclectus parrots each very similar in appearance varying in the size of their heads, brightness of their feathers, and the color of their heads. Regardless, they’re all absolutely gorgeous.
- The Eclectus Parrot is unusual in the parrot family for its marked sexual dimorphism in the colours of the plumage. The male is mostly bright green with a yellow-tinge on the head. It has blue primaries, and red flanks and underwing coverts. Its tail is edged with a narrow band of creamy yellow, and is dark grey edged with creamy yellow underneath, and the tail feathers are green centrally and more blue as they get towards the edges. The Grand eclectus female is mostly bright red with a darker hue on the back and wings. The mantle and underwing coverts darken to a more purple in colour, and the wing is edged with a mauve-blue. The tail is edged with yellowish-orange above, and is more orange tipped with yellow underneath. The upper mandible of the adult male is orange at the base fading to a yellow towards the tip, and the lower mandible is black. The beak of the adult female is all black. Adults have yellow to orange irises and juveniles have dark brown to black irises. The upper mandible of both male and female juveniles are brown at the base fading to yellow towards the biting edges and the tip They are among the few birds whose gender is so easily identified; most birds are difficult to sex.
- The above description is for the nominate race. The abdomen and nape of the females are blue in most subspecies, purple abdomen and nape in the subspecies (roratus) and lavender abdomen and nape in the (vosmaeri) subspecies from the north and central Maluku Islands, and red abdomen and nape in the subspecies from Sumba and Tanimbar Islands (cornelia and riedeli). Females of two subspecies have a wide band of yellow on the tail tip, riedeli and vosmaeri which also have yellow
- The Eclectus is a native of Australia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and/or the Solomon Islands. This species has also been introduced to Palau. Eclectus parrots have an extremely large range, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists their conservation status as “least concern”.
- There are nine (possibly more) subspecies of Eclectus Parrots, although the species as a whole needs reviewing. Access to some regions where the species occurs is difficult due to geographical or political reasons, and hence field observations have been limited. Furthermore, many skins were collected in the early part of the 19th century and have deteriorated in some museums. However, most eclectus skins in US museums are in good condition. In captivity in the U.S., some of the most common subspecies are the Solomon Island, the Vosmaer's, and the New Guinea Red-sided.
- a) Eclectus roratus roratus, known as the Grand Eclectus, is found on Buru, Seram, Ambon, Saparua and Haruku in the southern Maluku Islands. The subspecies begins intergrading with race vosmaeri on Seram.
- b) Eclectus roratus vosmaeri, known as the Vosmaer's Eclectus or Vos Eclectus, was originally described by Rothschild. Larger in size than the nominate subspecies with more yellow in the plumage, it is found on islands in the North Maluku province. The male has more yellow-toned plumage on the head and neck. The tail is bluer and has a small pale lemon yellow border. The female is a brighter red on the head, back and wings. Her undertail coverts are yellow and there is at least an inch of bright pure yellow tail tip
- c) Eclectus roratus cornelia, known as the Sumba Island Eclectus Parrot, is restricted to Sumba island in the Lesser Sunda Islands. Also larger than the nominate, the male is a paler shade of green overall and has a bluer tail. The female has an all red plumage, except for the primaries which are a dark royal blue. It was described by Bonaparte.
- d) Eclectus roratus riedeli, known as the Tanimbar Islands Eclectus Parrot, is found on the Tanimbar Islands. It is smaller than the nominate race. The male has a more bluish tinge to its green cheeks and neck, and its tail is edged with a broad band of yellow. The female has all red plumage, except for royal blue primaries and a broad band of yellow to edge the tail.
- e) Eclectus roratus polychloros, known as the New Guinea Red-sided Eclectus Parrot, was named by Scopoli. Larger than the nominate race. The green plumage of the male only has a slight yellow tinge and the tail is tipped with a half inch yellow band. The central tail feathers are green and lateral ones blue and green. It is widely distributed from Kai Islands and western islands of the West Papua province in the west, across the island of New Guinea to the Trobriands, D'Entrecasteaux Islands, and Louisiade Archipelago to the east. It has also been introduced to the Goram Islands, Indonesia
- f) Eclectus roratus macgillivrayi, known as the Australian Eclectus Parrot, was named by Gregory Mathews in 1912. It is found on the tip of Cape York Peninsula. It resembles polychloros but is larger overall
- g) Eclectus roratus solomonensis, known as the Solomon Island Eclectus Parrot, resembles polychloros but is smaller overall with smaller bills and paler orange in the upper mandible of the male. The green of the male has a more yellow tint, quite similar to the green of the vosmaeri
How To Care Eclectus Parrot
- General recommendation for housing the eclectus is to use the largest affordable cage that one's home will accommodate. Eclectus parrot are active birds and they need ample space for recreation and exercise. The minimum interior cage space should be 30" wide, 24" deep and 36" high.
- A full spectrum light above the cage will provide Vitamin D, which is filtered out by window glass. Make sure birds can't reach cords. Birds enjoy a window view but be sure the area doesn't overheat and that there's no draft. Check this by holding a candle steady to see if the flame flickers. Birds must be able to self-regulate temperatures by moving aways from the sun. Bords need 10-12 hours of rest per day. Consider a cage cover.
- Nutrition is the most important concerns in the care of the Eclectus. It is generally agreed that they need optimal amounts of natural Vitamin A in their diet. Also, because of their long digestive tract, we must provide ample amounts of fiber daily. The diet of the eclectus in the wild consists of mainly fruits, wild figs, unripe nuts, flower and leaf buds, and some seeds. Two favorite fruits are the pomegranate and the papaya (pawpaw) with seeds. In captivity, they will eat most fruits including mangos, figs, guavas, bananas, any melons, stone fruits (peaches etc.), grapes, citrus fruits, pears and apples. In captivity the eclectus parrot does benefit from a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, leafy greens such as endive and dandelion, as well as a variety of seeds, including spray millet, and a few nuts such as shelled almonds and shelled walnuts.
- Eclectus parrots love bathing and will often attempt to bath in their drinking water bowls. This is a sign of happiness and health and should be encouraged on warm, sunny days. A special bath can be placed in the bottom of the cage for this purpose. Bathing should be avoided on cold days to prevent chilling. Misting your bird with warm water using a spray bottle or providing a shallow dish of water for bathing is enjoyed by and benefits Eclectus parrots.
- In its natural habitat, the Eclectus nests within hollows in large, emergent rainforest trees. Suitable hollows are at a premium and the hen will vigorously defend her chosen nesting site from other females (perhaps even fighting to the death), remaining resident at 'her tree' for up to 11 months of the year, rarely straying from the entrance to her hollow and relying on multiple males to feed her via regurgitation. Males may travel up to 20 km to forage and up to five males will regularly provide food for each female, each competing with the others for her affections and the right to father her young. Unlike other parrot species, Eclectus parrots are polygynandrous—females may mate with multiple male suitors and males may travel from nesting site to nesting site to mate with multiple females. This unique breeding strategy may explain the pronounced sexual dimorphism of the Eclectus, as it is the female which must remain conspicuous at the entry to the nest hole, (in order to advertise her presence at her hollow to males and rival females), but well hidden when in the depths of the nest, because the red color hides her well in the darkness. The male is primarily a brilliant green color, which offers camouflage amongst the trees whilst foraging. However, the plumage of both sexes appears spectacular when viewed in the ultraviolet spectrum, an ability which predators such as hawks and owls lack.
- Two white 40.0x31.0 mm (1.5x1.2 in) eggs are laid, which are incubated for 28–30 days. Young fledge at about 11 weeks of age.
- Eclectus hens have a strong maternal instinct, which is displayed in captivity where they will constantly seek possible nesting spaces, climbing into cupboards, drawers and spaces beneath furniture and becoming very possessive and defensive of these locations. An unpaired hen may go on to lay infertile eggs with little encouragement in the spring. It is often possible to place abandoned eggs from other parrot species beneath a broody Eclectus hen, which she will readily accept and then happily incubate to the point of hatching and even rearing the hatched chick to the point it is removed from the nest.
- Adult females with poor nest hollows often commit infanticide on the male, if they produce both a male and a female chick. Inadequate nest hollows have a habit of flooding in heavy rain, drowning the chicks or eggs inside. This reported infanticide in wild pairs may be the result of other causes, since this behavior is not observed in captive pairs where the hen selectively kills male chicks.
- Eclectus parrots are one of the more popular birds kept in captivity, as either parent or hand reared. Unlike many other species of parrot they are relatively easy to breed yet difficult to hand feed. Eclectus in captivity require vegetables high in beta-carotene, such as lightly cooked sweet potato, fresh broccoli clumps, and fresh corn on the cob. Fresh greens such as endive or commercial dandelion are a very important in providing calcium and other nutrients. As with all pet birds, they should not be fed avocado, chocolate, or high fat junk foods such as French fries or commercially processed human foods such as pizza. Parrots are unable to digest the lactose in milk. Spray millet is one of the seed items they enjoy, though the Eclectus diet should typically contain much less seed than other birds. A variety of soaked and cooked beans and legumes, along with brown rice, provided in limited amounts help provide protein. Nuts and seeds provide vitamin E, but should be limited in order to avoid too much fat in the diet, as Eclectus parrots can become obese
- The captive Eclectus can be susceptible to muscle spasms known as toe-tapping and wing flipping. While all the causes are not clear, a major cause is a chemical imbalance in vitamins and minerals which inhibits the uptake of calcium, which often occurs subsequent to feeding commercially produced food treats or a high proportion of pellets in the diet. These movements have not been observed in the wild. Potential causes include consumption of pellets or other foods that are overly fortified with man made vitamins or artificially colored, or even simple dehydration. [Dr. Debra McDonald, avian nutrition researcher, has discussed the effect of man made vitamin A on the uptake of calcium.] Fortified or artificially colored food items may also cause allergic reactions in some individuals, including severe itchiness leading to feather and skin damage.
- Eclectus Parrots are generally calm birds in captivity, displaying a pensive nature when faced with novel items or situations, which may give rise to the mistaken impression that the species is 'dull-witted'. The Eclectus may also exhibit a more neophobic nature than other species of companion bird. Eclectus parrots are prone to feather destruction (picking, pulling, cutting and or barbing) in captivity. Causes can be difficult to pin down, but diet is generally the primary cause, along with failure to provide a soft wood perch to chew, with health problems and hormonal changes thought to be additional causes, as well as clipping primary wing feathers so that the cut ends irritate the bird's sides. Once this behavior begins it is nearly impossible to stop unless the cause has been addressed. Often only a mechanical barrier (e-collar) is successful in keeping the afflicted parrot from completely stripping all but its head of feathers. Other captive species that are prone to this behavior are the Cockatoo, African Grey, and to some extent the Macaw
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