Surely the most notable thing about Eclectus parrots is their dimorphic sexual coloration. About 25% of all parrots are sexually dimorphic meaning you can tell the difference between the male and the female bird by their color.
The name Eclectus actually comes from the world electric because of this species coloration. Female Eclectus parrots have a the heavier looking body and are predominately red in color. Subspecies are notable for their lavender-ish and blue breast feathers and the daisy yellow tail bands of the Vosmaeri’s. The brilliant red Eclectus’ body is accented by its black beak.
Conversely, the males (upper) beak starts out as black but ends up as a kind of orange red and yellow serving as an exclamation point to its brilliant emerald green body. Depending upon the species of males you’ll see blue and yellow hues blended into their overall green feathers. Males are more streamlined making them very efficient at flight.
As recently as October 2011, researchers from the Australian National University unraveled the mysterious behavior of female Eclectus parrots killing their sons as soon they’ve hatched. A behavior known as “infantcide” has been known about for quite a while but always puzzled scientists as to why the birds would have babies then kill them. It turns out that it was a case of adaptive reason.
Eclectus parrots are about the size of Sulfur Crested Cockatoo and in the wild, they nest in tree trunk hollows 60 – 100 feet from the ground. Eclectus chicks are unusual in that they have a distinct gender color difference at a very young age allowing the mother who is the sole caregiver to decide her chick’s fate based on its sex not too long after hatching. What’s even more interesting was that the research that uncovered this behavior found that “infanticide” only happened in certain types of nest hollows.
Some hollows flood in heavy rains drowning the chicks or eggs. So Eclectus moms in the “low quality” hollows will often get rid of the male chicks to speed the development of females because female Eclectus chicks fledge up to seven days earlier than males giving the females better luck of reproductive success
That said, in captivity, It’s been our experience that Eclectus make very good pets if you’re determined to have a rather good size parrot in the household. With a proper nutritional diet, these birds are predictable and fairly docile making them relatively easy to handle around children as seen in the video below
Eclectus parrots have unique nutritional needs because of their longer digestive tracts. They require a diet consisting of predominantly fruits and vegetables and fiber in order to remain healthy. Because of this, they could suffer from nutritional deficiencies if their human(s) don’t pay attention to these very specific dietary needs.
For the very reason that pellets have engineered nutrition, these birds have been known to literally overdose on vitamins when on pellet diets. The overabundance of vitamins can result in plucking, toe-tapping, and screeching. While I’m not advocating eliminating pellets from the diet altogether, we suggest that you introduce them sparingly and certainly not allow them to have any colored pellets. This does vary from bird to bird and so it’s really something that should you be aware of and be willing to experiment.
Seeds should also be used sparingly. We’ve seen firsthand at the Birdie Boutique a beautiful male Eclectus who’s beak had grown far too long as a result of a diet consisting of too much seed. Much like the high levels of nutrition that are engineered into pellets, seeds that have been “vitamin enriched” can be harmful to the overall well-being of these birds.
A bird cage no smaller than 32 x 23 Inches is advisable to give the bird room to stretch their wings and have room to move throughout the day while in the enclosure. Bird toys should be size appropriate as we suggest for any parrot species, no less than 10 toys in the upper third portion of the cage to give the bird both privacy and activity opportunities.
The smallest Eclectus is the Westermani Eclectus measuring about 11-1/2 inches The largest is the Macgillivray or Australian Eclectus measuring almost 15 inches long. Although the list of these subspecies include the Cornelia’s Eclectus, Vosmaeri Eclectus, Aru Island Eclectus, Red-sided Eclectus, Solomon Island Eclectus, Biaki Eclectus, Grand Eclectus and Riedeli’s Eclectus, the most popular species are the Red-sided, Vosmaeri and Solomon Island.