Eclectus Parrot Elongated Digestive Tract – Fact Or Fiction?
87956343 - the male bright green and female red and blue eclectus parrots are next to each other

Eclectus Parrot Elongated Digestive Tract – Fact Or Fiction?

Last Updated on by Mitch Rezman

Here’s an earlier eclectus parrot feeding question from our database:

I’ve read different articles on how much fruit to give my ekkies.

Some say it is ok to give them as much as they eat and others say the veggies should be their top priority.

I do try to give them an equal amount but it seems they have gotten picky about their vegetables lately.

I have been giving them different varieties and mixing up how I serve them – warm, cool, different spices on them but they still prefer the fruit.

I also have their pellet bowl kept full.

I have read different opinions on this also as they may be getting too many nutrients and vitamins if they eat too many pellets.


Any info you can give me on the matter would be greatly appreciated.


They are 6 months old-brothers.

One weighs in at 366g while the other one weighs in at 327g.


I have read that this is really quite light for male ekkies to weigh but they have held steady at this weight since about two and a half months old.


(a Windy City Parrot customer)


I have had no health issues with them and they interact very well with the family.

Not even the dogs incessant barking at people walking down the street seem to bother them.

So they seem well adapted to the crazy life in the household which includes 2 dogs, 1 cat, 2 cags, 2 half moon conures and 2 parakeets.

They do eat. I’m just worried that they are not getting the right percentages.


And a typical mitchr answer (before interacting recently with Laurie Hess DVM of Zupreem)


Hi Tanya


Although the digestive tract in most parrots is similar, Eclectus parrots are unique in that theirs is longer.

The issue becomes vitamins remaining in the tract too long eventually becoming toxic.

If your bird is eating the correct pellet they really need no other supplements including fruit nor veggies – but that’s no fun.

We advocate up to 30% fruits and veggies for well rounded meals and keeping it interesting for the bird(s).

Because additional vitamins are bad for Ekkies we recommend Goldn’obles from Goldenfeast as they are 100% natural human grade with zero supplements.


To break up the monotony you may like this seed diet especially for Eclectus from Volkman.


Let’s start with “Some say it is ok to give them as much as they can eat and others say the veggies should be their top priority”.


In the wild birds are scavengers and will eat anything thus there’s really no need to put an emphasis on any one variety of food.


If you’re eating an apple then give them a piece apple if you made a salad give them some of the salad.

Peaches our Senegal does not like dressing – the pellets will take care of the nutritional needs.

I keep Ball jars of raw almonds, raw walnuts, sunflower kernels and the like that I use for both training and bonding.


Birds should be a pleasure – not a chore.

We discourage acidic fruits like oranges and pineapples.




When birds eat food, it sits in the crop for 2 – 3 hours before moving down to their proventriculus.


The proventriculus (aka the true stomach) is a glandular stomach where digestion primarily begins.


We feel the acid may cause birdie heartburn for the many hours the fruit sits in the crop and may possibly be a trigger for plucking.


That said we advocate keeping the food dish not so full – 1/2 to 1/3 otherwise birds become picky eaters.


We also like to combine food with foraging and enrichment activities to keep the birds happy and interested.


In other words, put some pellets in the bowls maybe some treats like Nutriberries or Avicakes and then cover them up with tissue paper balled up newspaper vine balls – 


There are no open bowls of food lying around the Solomon Islands (where eclectus parrots are indigenous).  


Birds have to work for food that’s how they’re wired and they will eat much better if we treat them like that.


I would not worry about your bird’s weight but I suggest that you weigh them weekly because it’s not the weight but rapid changes in the weight up or down that may indicate an illness that does not manifest itself in physical characteristics like it would on a dog, cat or human.



The easiest way to ensure that your bird is getting the right nutritional numbers is to have a full blood panel done at the vet.


Beyond that,  you are guessing.


Hope this helped




Selling pet supplies in the world where Amazon and Petco dominate, requires creativity.


So I’m always looking for issues that will set us apart from other pet bird supply vendors.

There is only one species of dog (Google it) but there are between 9000 and 11,000 species of birds depending upon whose list you read.


We care for about 750 species that are held captive as pets.


One of the things I learned early on when I got into the pet bird product supply business in 2002 was that a certain type of parrot called the Eclectus parrot (Solomon Islands, New Guinea, northeastern Australia and the Maluku Islands (Moluccas)) – has an elongated digestive system.


What we’ve been telling people for years is to never offer these birds additional vitamins or supplements because they can become toxic during the lengthy stay in their system


I felt the information was more than anecdotal

The eclectus has an unusually long digestive tract, so tolerates a high-fiber diet. In captivity, the eclectus parrot does benefit from a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, leafy greens such as endive and dandelion, and a variety of seeds, including spray millet, and a few nuts such as shelled almonds and walnuts. <-owned by 2 generations of avian veterinarians


Ecelctus parrots have a longer digestive tract than other bird species, and some aviculturists believe that because of this, they especially need a low-fat, high-fiber diet that is not overly fortified with vitamins and minerals.

Eclectus parrots have a slightly different digestive tract than most other birds and require a diet that is high in fiber.


Unlike most other pet birds, seeds should only …


It’s Tuesday afternoon,


I’m standing in the shop reviewing stock (for our upcoming in-store inventory system) and looking at a bag of Zupreem bird food pellets with a picture of an Eclectus.


The bag said all “natural vitamins and supplements”.


“This should not be” I exclaimed to no one in particular


I immediately reached out to our Zupreem rep Katie Bruno (the best ever!)


Katie’s response:


Mitch, here is the information I received from Dr. Laurie Hess, DVM, Diplomate ABVP (Avian Practice) who is also ZuPreem Director of Pet Health and Nutrition.


“While some Eclectus parrots have slightly larger stomachs (proventriculus) than other parrots, their GI tracts are just like those of other parrots, and they do well on pellets.


I have literally put hundreds of Eclectus parrots on pellets (including ZuPreem) over the past 24 years, and without a doubt keeping Eclectus’ healthy.


Someone started an unfounded rumor in the ’90s that additional levels of zinc in food caused neurologic signs in Eclectus such as toe-tapping and wing flicking.


This was never proven, yet the rumor persists online and among bird owners/breeders.


As for vitamins, many people feel that Eclectus parrots (as well as blue-fronted Amazon parrots) require MORE vitamin A in their diets than other species.


No studies have been done to prove or disprove this theory, however, their need for vitamin A (as in all parrots) means that pellets are extremely important in their diet as a vitamin A source.



As for Eclectus retaining food in their GI tracts over days and even weeks, that is completely untrue.


The GI transit time for an Eclectus parrot is similar to that of other medium-size parrots;


it takes 2-3 hours for food to pass from mouth to the vent.”


And, I also talked to Gail Shepard, Zupreem Director of Marketing for clarification on the packaging statement.


“For any product name with the word “Natural,” we are required by AAFCO, the agency that monitors pet food packaging, to add “with added vitamins and minerals”


This does not mean we are adding more.


It means vitamins and minerals are in the pellets.


Every bird food manufacturer is adding vitamins and minerals.


We don’t know of any that don’t. Reviewing ingredient panels will confirm that”.


If you would like Dr. Laurie to call you, I can arrange that!


Just let me know. Thank you and let me know if you need anything else from me!


Kathryn put me in touch via phone with


Laurie Hess, DVM, Diplomate ABVP (Avian Practice) <-equal to human “board certified”

Director of Pet Health & Nutrition

ZuPreem <-one of the biggest pet food manufacturers ever


We chatted for almost an hour.


One of the topics was walking me through many of the surgeries she’s performed.


How many instances she tracked the time it took for barium to travel from a birds crop to it’s vent.


2 – 3 hours.


Based on her 25 years experience in veterinary medicine and the lovely face of one of our national leading pet food brands., I’m convinced – this long digestive tract issue is an urban myth.


Note to me


Where or how would I start to research something like this so I can change the Internet (one of my hobbies) and create more content?


thank you


Another evergreen eclectus question for mitchr


My female eclectus is not well.


The vet is not sure what exactly is the problem, but she is anemic has lost weight, and has liver issues. I took her to an avian vet that is very well known and had her stay for 5 nights.


She is back home now, on 2 antibiotics and a liver support medication.


Would you be able to suggest any products that might help her?


Dear Sharlene


I am sorry your ecky is unwell.


Eclectus parrots are unique in their digestive tract is twice as long as other birds so they need a diet that is free of added vitamins and additives.


I think most of their health issues are related to food.


What kind of food are you feeding your bird?


Volkman Eclectus seed mix is free of fortification.


And all Goldenfeast products are as well.


NO additives, NO vitamins, No colors.


They also have a pellet that is perfect for them. Goldn’Obles.


You can find all Goldenfeast here


Another option is TOPS pellets and seeds.


They are very pure and are good when trying to find out if a food diet is causing problems. 


We are sending healing thoughts to your ecky.


Thank you



I just sent a message about the eating habits of my ekkies. I just wanted to add that the pellets they eat are Lafeber’s and I do not feed them any seed.


Hey Kathryn


Lafebers is great – a little seed is OK – fyi Nutriberries 8% pellets – Avicakes 50% pellets


Have I muddied up the waters for a change?


From a different ekkie caregiver recently


The customer said that her “Eckies after being given food with additives (Nutri-Berries), began to pick at their feathers and skin.


Not immediately, but within a few days.


Please share your Eclectus experiences in the comment section below.

written by Mitch Rezman
collaborated with Laurie Hess, DVM, Diplomate ABVP (Avian Practice)
edited and approved by Catherine Tobsing

your zygodactyl footnote

I just finished watching 38 slide/videos of a series entitled “Exploring the wild diet to solve functional digestive disorders in Eclectus parrots”  by
Rob Marshall B.V.Sc., M.A.C.V.SC. (Avian Health)
Most are under 30 seconds – Pay attention to # 17

Follow up eclectus digestive tract question and answer


written by mitch rezman and catherine tobsing

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Tanya, Sounds like you have Solomon Island eclectus parrots. The weights you mention are quite appropriate for that subspecies. Each eclectus subspecies has different weight parameters. Solomons are the smallest ones and the most common eclectus subspecies in the US. Regarding the pellets it is recommend to provide natural color pellets as in some instances it appears the dyes in the colored pellets cause irritation in eclectus and in African greys too.

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