Eclectus parrots set themselves apart from other parrots species because they are most sexually dimorphic! This means that you can tell easily distinguish the males from the females.
Male Eclectus parrots are primarily green with orange beaks and females are mostly red with black beaks!
It is thought that, since female Eclectus parrots spend so much time guarding their nesting sites at tree hollows, their brilliant red coloration helps the male Eclectus to spot their potential mates.
The males green coloration helps them blend in well with the forest providing them with excellent camouflage as they travel great distances to find food to feed their mates.
In captivity, Eclectus parrots are known to be intelligent and affectionate, having laid-back personalities. Female Eclectus tend to be more territorial about their space and a bit more aggressive than the males.
In general, Eclectus are not considered to be boisterous birds, but they can emit a very loud squawk. They are excellent at mimicking human speech and make wonderful companions. Eclectus are content to spend time on their perches and play stands in quiet environments, playing with their toys.
“Ekkies,” as they are affectionately called, love to eat! Eclectus parrots have a very long digestive tract, and therefore a high fiber diet complete with a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables is the healthiest. Eclectus require more beta-carotene in their diet than other species. Examples of foods high in beta-carotene include carrots, pumpkin, squash, sweet potato, and dark leafy greens.
They have a tendency to be overweight, and so it is essential to monitor their diets, providing the right proportions of fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and seed. When feeding pellets, it is vital to avoid colored brands as Eclectus are sensitive to coloring agents and food additives.
Origin and History
Eclectus parrots are native to the Solomon and the Southern Moluccas Islands, New Guinea and parts of Australia.
The Electus habitat is described as semi-tropical & monsoon rainforests and lowland forests.
Eclectus often travel in pairs or small flocks, but large flocks are known to congregate around plentiful fruit trees. Most of their day is spent foraging and at dusk, they return to their roosting site with as many as eighty birds.
In the wild, they eat wild figs, unripe nuts, flower and leaf buds, berries, blossoms, seeds, and even some insects. Two of their favorite foods are pomegranates and corn.
Eclectus parrots have two distinct calls. While flying, they often repeat a loud, noisy screech and while feeding, they have a more mellow cry.
Eclectus parrots prefer to build their nest holes in the tallest trees near the edge of the forest. There is very intense competition for suitable nest holes. Because of this, once found, female Eclectus may stay in their nests up to nine months per year and have been observed fighting to the death to maintain ownership.
These parrots do not mate for life. In fact, both male and female Eclectus often have many mates during the same breeding season. The female and the multiple males all take a role in raising the chicks. Up to seven males have been observed at the same nest hole.
Eclectus can breed year-round, and a clutch is typically two eggs. Female Eclectus incubate the eggs by themselves, but both parents feed the chicks, and the female-only leaves the nest a few times a day to be fed by the male.
Life Span: 40 – 50 yrs.
Length: 14″ (35 cm)
Weight: 15 – 16 oz. (430 – 450 grams)
Origin and History
The Eclectus parrot lives in tropical rainforests and originated in the Solomon Islands. Wild populations can also be found in northeastern Australia, Indonesian, the Moluccas, and New Guinea.
In their native monsoon forests, Eclectus nest high up in the trees. They usually manage to find a deep nest hole in a tree where they can lay their eggs and raise a family.
The Eclectus is a very friendly and intelligent bird species that are often described as gentle, quiet, and caring. Many grow on the time they get to spend with their owners and do well when the time for socialization is put into a daily routine.
They do enjoy such regular practices, too. This is one bird who will learn what to expect in your household and really enjoy the comings and goings, as well as being a part of it. Breaking from its activities should be done only on rare occasions.
Most Eclectus can be kept in a multiple bird household, but some have jealous tendencies. Make sure to give an Eclectus the proper amount of your time and attention when introducing it or any new bird to your building.
While both the males and females of the species make wonderful pets, many owners claim that the boys tend to be a bit more intelligent and agreeable than the girls. On the other side, females may be less dependent on their owners and may be able to deal with stressful situations better than males.
Then again, a female Eclectus can be strict and, at times, more aggressive than a male. This is very true when she’s breeding. Even on her own in captivity, her nesting instincts will remain strong. You might find her trying to nest in hidden areas of your home.
Eclectus Parrot Colors and Markings
Eclectus are known as sexually dimorphic, meaning that you can tell the sex of the bird by the color of its feathers. Male Eclectus are a brilliant emerald green color, with bright orange beaks and splashes of red and blue under their wings. The females, by contrast, are mostly bright red, with black beaks and deep purple markings on their chests and tails.
In the early 20th century, these birds were thought to be entirely different species. For this reason, breeders were unknowingly trying to couple two cocks or two hens. This is somewhat understandable because the Eclectus is one of the few dimorphic parrots.
What really makes both male and female Eclectus stand out is the appearance of the feathers. Rather than the different lines found on many birds, the feathers seem to blend together. When this is paired with the extremely clear color, it’s almost as if someone painted in superior colors on these birds. Surprisingly, this coloring is brilliant disguise in their native habitat and they’re often heard before they’re seen.
Caring for an Eclectus Parrot
Eclectus parrots are very social and affectionate. They cherish the time they get to spend interacting with their families. Anyone thinking of adopting an Eclectus should first make sure that they have enough time to spend with their pet. Since the Eclectus are so intelligent, they are often very sensitive and can easily become stressed if they begin to feel neglected.
Many people find them to be on the quiet side when compared to other parrots. They do, however, have a distinctive honk and other sounds that can be amusing the first few times, but loud and startling. Eclectus can be taught to speak quite a few words and they are quick to learn almost anything you want to teach them.
Their gentle nature does mean that an Eclectus can do well with children. However, they don’t like to be startled and prefer a calm environment, so it’s important to consider if your family attitude is a good match for that personality.
Around 18 months of age, the birds begin to reach sexual maturity. Sometimes this brings with it some aggression or the instinct to “feed” whatever is nearby. You may notice some naughty behavior during this transition, but it’s generally advised to ignore it and turn to distracting methods instead of reinforcing it. With time, they pass through the phase and learn what’s acceptable.
Another habit for the Eclectus is toe-tapping and wing-flipping. This is similar to feather plucking, which is a common behavioral issue with parrots who feel neglected. However, when the three actions occur in an Eclectus, it can be a sign of a serious health issue. The nutritional shortage caused by excess vitamins and minerals, fortified foods, or artificial ingredients as well as eating foreign objects like beads, or stress is probable causes. It’s important to see an avian veterinarian right away.
Potential owners should spend time with several different birds, if possible, to find the one whose personality fits best with their own. Eclectus parrots are not as common as others, so you may have to seek out a specialty pet shop or breeder.
Feeding Eclectus Parrots
The Eclectus has a specialized digestive tract that is different from many other bird species. Due to this, they need to be fed a diet high in fiber and low in fat. It’s also best to avoid too many vitamin and mineral supplements, which could lead to digestive swellings or abnormal behavior.
In the wild, they prefer pomegranate, papaya, and figs, though they’ll also eat flowers, buds on trees, and a few seeds. As a pet, it’s important that their diet is comprised of fresh fruits, vegetables, and carbohydrates. Cooked pasta or grain bake—a homemade casserole just for birds—will ensure they get all the necessary carbs.
Seeds and pellets can be offered to an Eclectus in moderation, but many owners advice against feeding mixes that contain artificial dyes, flavorings, or preservatives. They could cause your pet to lose its beautiful color and artificial foods are generally not considered something you should be feeding your flock. They can be toxic, especially to this sensitive species.
The Eclectus are active birds and need plenty of room to exercise. They should have access to a large play stand and a “bird-safe” area in which to climb and explore. Proper exercise helps the Eclectus maintain its physical and mental health, and is a necessity for a happy, healthy pet.
Provide a large cage for your Eclectus, especially if you keep a pair. Consider it more of an aviary, with measurements around 11 and 3 foot and plenty of height to let them fly, climb, and stay busy.