Charming, eye-catching, and intelligent, eclectus parrots are captivating birds that make impressive pets. Their beautiful colors, talking ability, and loveable personalities have gone a long way in establishing them as one of the most popular pet parrots available. This is one of the larger parrot species, though, so it does require the right owner with plenty of time and space available.
Common Names: Eclectus parrot, Solomon Island eclectus parrot, Grand eclectus parrot, yellow-sided eclectus parrot, Vosmaeri eclectus parrot, blue-bellied eclectus parrot, red-sided eclectus parrot, dusky eclectus parrot
Scientific Name: Eclectus roratus
Adult Size: 17 and 20 inches, weighing 13 to 18 ounces
Life Expectancy: 30 to 50 years
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. Unlike other parrots, they also tend to be more communal about raising young with extended family members pitching in to help with the chicks. As there really is no breeding season in their range, eclectus parrots in the wild breed year round.
There are a number of subspecies of the eclectus parrot, which is why there are so many common names. The Solomon Island eclectus is most often found in the pet trade.
The eclectus is a very friendly and intelligent bird species that's often described as gentle, tranquil, and caring. Many thrive on the time they get to spend with their owners and do well when a time for socialization is incorporated into a daily routine.
They do enjoy routines, 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 routine 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 aviary.
While both the males and females of the species make wonderful pets, many owners claim that the boys tend to be a bit more trainable and agreeable than the girls. On the flip side, females may be less dependent on their owners and may be able to deal with stressful situations better than the males.
Then again, a female eclectus can be bossier and, at times, more aggressive than a male. This is particularly 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 secluded 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.
Prior to 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 distinct lines found on many birds, the feathers seem to blend together. When this is paired with the extremely vivid color, it's almost as if someone painted fine fir on these birds. Surprisingly, this coloring is brilliant camouflage 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 ample 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 vocalizations 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 dynamic 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 distraction techniques instead of reinforcing it. With time, they pass through the phase and learn what's acceptable.
Another peculiarity 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. Nutritional deficiencies caused by excess vitamins and minerals, fortified foods, or artificial ingredients as well as eating foreign objects like beads, or stress are probable causes. It's important to see an avian vet 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 tumors 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 caution 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.
You'll also want to provide these birds with many perches of different materials and diameters so their feet remain healthy. A climbing ladder, swings, and a slew of fun toys to beat up and chew on will also make the eclectus happy.
If provided with enough stimulation, they do a better job than many parrots at keeping themselves occupied when you're not around. The more challenges you can give these smart birds, the better.
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