The Eclectus parrot (Eclectus roratus ) is a colorful parrot native to the Solomon Islands, Sumba, New Guinea and nearby islands, northeastern Australia, and the Maluku Islands (Moluccas). It is unusual in the parrot family for its extreme sexual dimorphism of the colors of the plumage and Joseph Forshaw, in his book Parrots of the World, noted that the first European ornithologists to see Eclectus parrots thought the males and the females were of two distinct species. Large populations of this parrot remain, and they are sometimes considered pests for eating fruit off trees. Some populations restricted to relatively small islands are comparably rare. Their bright feathers are also used by native tribespeople in New Guinea as decorations.
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NoNot a migrant
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The Eclectus parrot is unusual in the parrot family for its extreme difference of the colors of the plumage between the male and the female; the male has mostly bright emerald green plumage and the female has mostly bright red and purple/blue plumage. Large populations of this parrot remain, and they are sometimes considered pests for eating fruit off trees. Their bright feathers are also used by native tribespeople in New Guinea as decorations.
Eclectus parrots are native to the Solomon Islands, Sumba, New Guinea and nearby islands, northeastern Australia, and the Maluku Islands (Moluccas). They live in forests, often near water or coastal areas, and often occur in savanna woodland, mangroves, freshwater swamp, plantations, and rural gardens.
Eclectus parrots are shy and secretive birds. They are active during the day spending most of their time collecting food, eating, and resting. They live in pairs or small flocks and at night roost in groups. These parrots are quite noisy. They make a screeching flight call, chuckling, and bell-like sounds; when feeding they keep in contact with each other using a ‘chu-wee’ sound. Eclectus parrots have an interesting adaptation that is connected with the difference of the colors of the plumage between the sexes. The female must remain conspicuous at the entry to the nest hole (to advertise her presence at her hollow to males and rival females), but well hidden when in the depths of the nest, because the red color hides her well in the darkness. The brilliant green color of the male helps him remain hidden amongst the trees whilst foraging. However, the plumage of both sexes appears spectacular when viewed in the ultraviolet spectrum, an ability that predators such as hawks and owls lack.
Electus parrots are herbivores (frugivores). Their diet includes mainly fruits, wild figs, unripe nuts, flower and leaf buds, and some seeds.
Unlike other parrot species, Eclectus parrots are polygynandrous (promiscuous); females may mate with multiple male suitors, and males may travel from nesting site to nesting site to mate with multiple females. Pairs nest within hollows in large, emergent trees. Suitable hollows are at a premium and the female vigorously defends her chosen nesting site from other females, remaining resident at 'her tree' for up to 11 months of the year, rarely straying from the entrance to her hollow and relying on multiple males to feed her via regurgitation. Males may travel up to 20 km to forage and up to five males will regularly provide food for each female, each competing with the others for her affections and the right to father her young. The female lays 2 white eggs and incubates them for 28-30 days. Young fledge at about 11 weeks and become reproductively mature between 2 and 3 years of age.
Eclectus parrots are one of the more popular birds kept in captivity and thus are often hunted and trapped for trade. They also suffer from deforestation and loss of habitat.
According to the IUCN Red List, the total population size of the Eclectus parrot is 7,300-51,000 mature individuals. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List but its numbers today are decreasing.
Eclectus parrots are one of the more popular birds kept in captivity, as either parent or hand reared. Unlike many other species of parrot they are relatively easy to breed yet difficult to hand feed.Show More
Eclectus parrots are generally calm birds in captivity, displaying a pensive affect when faced with novel items or situations, which may give rise to the mistaken impression that the species is 'dull-witted'. The eclectus may also exhibit more neophobia than other species of companion bird. Eclectus parrots are prone to feather destruction (picking, pulling, cutting, and / or barbing) in captivity.
While the subspecies E. r. vosmaeri is the most commonly kept in aviculture over all, many eclectus parrots in captivity in Australia are apparently hybrids between subspecies E. r. polychloros and E. r. solomonensis, as Taronga Zoo Sydney had a flock of these two subspecies in a large aviary many years ago. Specimens of the Australian subspecies E. r. macgillivrayi have only recently entered the aviculture market in Australia and are more expensive.
The average lifespan of the eclectus parrots in captivity is unknown, since these birds were not kept in captivity in great numbers until the 1980s. Some sources consider the lifespan to be 30 years. The maximum reliably recorded longevity for this species is 28.5 years, but a lifespan of 40.8 years has also been reported.
Eclectus parrots in captivity are prone to "toe tapping" - characterized by involuntary extension and contractions of the muscles of the feet that cause the bird to constantly tap its toenails against a perch. It is believed to be related to bird's diet and may be a result of providing the eclectus with food fortified with vitamins, processed food intended for humans (particularly containing man-made vitamins or preservatives) or food containing spirulina.Show Less
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