Caged Parrots

The Eclectus

The Eclectus parrot is endemic to the Solomon Islands, New Guinea, nearby islands and north-eastern Australia. It is somewhat unique in that there is extreme sexual dimorphism between the sexes. Their native environment is the lowland rainforests, where they occupy the nutrient rich canopy.

Eclectus Parrot

The nominate species is the Grand Eclectus (Eclectus roratus roratus) and it is generally considered that there are nine subspecies.

The plumage of the male is mostly a brilliant emerald green. The undersurfaces of the wings are red and the beak is a bright orange. The tail is black. By contrast the female is a bright scarlet. The belly and back are a dark blue and the beak is black. Once, the sexes were thought to be different species. Even the chicks are different colours with males being a fluffy grey ball and females a fluffy black ball. Eclectus parrots are around 35cm in length.

Eclectus Parrot - Hen(52036)

In the wild, the eclectus parrot
nests in a tree hollow high above the ground. She will lay two eggs and will rarely leave her nest, defending it vigorously against interlopers. Nest sites are so scarce that another hen may steal her nest. The female relies on males to bring seeds and fruits to her. The bird is polygamous with both hens and cocks having multiple partners. Incubation takes 28 to 30 days and the chicks fledge at 11 weeks of age. In an aviary situation, the eggs may be incubated and/or the chicks hand-raised for the pet trade.

In the wild, this bird feeds mainly on fruits such as wild figs, papaya and pomegranate. They also eat nuts, leaf buds, flowers and some seeds. The eclectus parrot has a long digestive tract and needs plenty of fibre in its diet.

Aviary birds need about 80% of their diet as soft food such as soaked seed, thawed out frozen mixed vegetables and fresh fruit and vegetables. Twenty percent can be a dry seed mix together with a few nuts, dog biscuits and boiled eggs as occasional treats. Soft food should be offered in stainless steel bowls and uneaten food removed each evening. This will prevent diseases caused by contaminated food. Keep food and water receptacles scrupulously clean.

The eclectus is sometimes regarded as dull and lethargic. When faced with unfamiliar situations or people, the bird's natural instinct is to freeze and watch. Once they are relaxed in an environment, they are curious and playful.

As a Pet
Eclectus parrots enjoy great popularity as an aviary specimen but proper husbandry of the birds can be time-consuming. They are reasonably easy to breed in captivity.

Cage birds should not be fed too many nuts and seeds as they are inclined to obesity. Vegetables high in beta-carotene and fresh greens are important to provide the necessary vitamins and minerals. An imbalance of vitamins and minerals, such as calcium deficiency, is believed to be responsible for muscle spasms which are sometimes seen in aviary birds but not observed in wild birds. Some individual birds will show a reaction to fortified and/or artificial foods. The allergy manifests itself as severe itchiness. This can lead to feather and skin problems.

Electus parrots are usually calm birds in captivity but are prone to feather-plucking behaviours. Such self-destructive behaviours are almost impossible to stop once they begin. Changes of diet, hormonal changes and boredom are thought to cause feather-plucking so try to keep your parrot well fed and entertained. Fresh eucalyptus branches can be provided to keep the parrot occupied through part of the day. Chewing and fossicking through the leaves and branches will provide a diversion and hopefully prevent the bird from starting to chew his own feathers.

Eclectus parrots are good talkers and have a wide range of natural vocalisations as well. They can also be extremely raucous especially when agitated or excited and are not recommended for suburban backyards. As a pet, the garrulous, affectionate eclectus parrot will be a wonderful companion who will provide many hours of entertainment.

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