Scientific name Eclectus roratus
Adult length: 31-37cm (12-14 ½ in) depending on sub-species
Adult weight 375-50g (13-19 ½ oz); solomonensis 350-425g.
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Expected lifespan Forty years
Status in wild Varies according to location. Populations on some Indonesian Islands
have been seriously depleted by over-trapping and/or loss of habitat.
Origin New Guinea (except higher mountainous areas); Australia, Cape York only; Indonesia.
Sexual dimorphism: The most extreme in the world of Parrots: the male is green and the female is red and blue (or mainly red in a couple of rare sub-species).
Vocalisations: varied and interesting range of calls, quite unlike those of most other Parrots. A male in breeding condition makes a “konk, konk, konk” sound as he raps his beak against the female’s -- part of the courtship behaviour. Courting females make an attractive, almost metallic sound.
Pet birds are not usually very noisy but aviary birds can be very loud if there is danger, such as a cat in the vicinity, or if male and female are separated.
Attitude towards other Parrots in the home: usually indifference!
Behaviour relating to pet potential: The prospective owner must realise that the temperament is totally different to that of affectionate birds like Amazons or Cockatoos that have very strong pair bonds and show their affection by mutual preening and playing with their mate.
The social system of Eclectus is very unusual but not unique (Vasa Parrots also live in female-dominated societies). In the wild a female has a nest which is attended by a number of males. If this female should die or be ousted, the males probably continue to attend that nest when it is occupied by another female.
Because there is no strong pair bond, but attachment to a nest site, there is no mutual preening between male and female. This means that most Eclectus do not enjoy having their head rubbed or being touched anywhere on the plumage or body.
A male who was my companion for many years, from the 1970s (wild-caught, there were no captive-bred birds in this era and importations were rare), treated me as his mate and his sign of attachment was to carry out his “konk, konk, konk” behaviour, treating my nose like a female’s beak! He was a wonderful companion bird, as are many male Eclectus.
Female’s have a different temperament which I observed before young birds were even weaned. There are exceptions, but generally speaking they are less tolerant of close human interaction and some can be quite unpleasant!
On no account should they be given a box that they can enter or they will stay inside for long periods, and become protective and aggressive. But they are so striking and beautiful! However, plumage should not be the reason that a female is chosen as a companion.
Plumage care: Regular spraying or taking your bird into the shower is absolutely essential. Few Parrots suffer more than Eclectus if kept in a dry environment.
This means not placing your bird near a radiator. If the atmosphere is too dry, the plumage will suffer, the skin will become too dry and this could lead to irritation and feather plucking. Click here for misters.
If you can place your bird in its cage outside during a shower of rain, this will be highly beneficial. But do not leave the bird unattended for fear of hawk attack and make sure the cage door is padlocked!
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Diet: This is a subject of overriding importance where Eclectus are concerned. They are not tolerant to incorrect feeding and will succumb after a few years on a bad diet. Before buying an Eclectus please ask yourself honestly if you will have the time and dedication to prepare the soft foods necessary. Seed should form only a small part of the diet.
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I recently rescued a female Eclectus that had been kept for eight years on sunflower seed and peanuts. She was in very poor condition, plucking herself and perching with difficulty (She was not an old bird).
I was told she did not eat fruit and vegetables -- but she immediately started to eat many kinds with relish. Her condition improved rapidly and several months later she laid one egg!
Eclectus’s should not be given a standard Parrot mixture because the fat content of sunflower seed and peanuts is far too high. Female Eclectus easily become overweight.
If you want to check, handle the bird and you might feel the fat deposits on the underparts. You might even be able to see the orange deposits under the skin.
A female of the larger sub-species should not weigh more than about 550g. Seed can form a small part of the diet (perhaps 30%) but as small seeds are usually preferred and more healthy, a good quality Parakeet mixture with added canary seed is a much better option.
Eclectus have a high requirement for Vitamin A. As in other Parrots, a deficiency leads to a number of serious health problems. Fortunately, Eclectus readily take items high in this vitamin, including raw or par-boiled carrot and cooked sweet potato (orange type). Sweet red peppers are excellent and dark green leaves such as kale.
Dandelion (tender leaves) also have a high Vitamin A content; give the whole plant, including the root. All the usual fruits and vegetables can be offered, also cooked beans and pulses.
Click here for everything you need for Eclectus Parrots.