When first discovered back in the 1700s, these beautiful and extremely colourful parrots were thought to be two separate species. The male Eclectus parrots are a deep forest green; they have red underwings that gave them the commonly used name of red-sided parrot, which is still in use today. Females are bright red with a cobalt blue breast. The male Eclectus was discovered first, but it was a staggering one hundred years later before the female was discovered. There are nine recognised subspecies.
The Eclectus Parrot is also unique because of their feathers; their feathers are fine, similar to those of the Lory family. It was because of these hair-like feathers they were first thought to be members of the Lory family.
The recognised subspecies are:
- Grand Eclectus – Eclectus roratus roratus
[regarded as the nominate race]
- Vosmaer’s Eclectus – Eclectus roratus Vosmaeri
- Tanimbar Island Eclectus – Eclectus roratus riedeli
- Cornelia’s Eclectus – Eclectus roratus cornelia
- Aru Island Eclectus – Eclectus roratus aruensis
- Biak Island Eclectus – Eclectus roratus biaki
- New Guinea Eclectus – Eclectus roratus polychloros
- Solomon Island Eclectus – Eclectus roratus solomonensis
- Australian Eclectus – Eclectus roratus macgillivrayi
The nine subspecies of Eclectus roratus are found throughout the Indonesian archipelago, including the islands of Maluku, Halmahera, Tanimbar, Sumba, Aru and Biak as well as Indonesian West Papua and Papua New Guinea. They are also found throughout the Solomon Islands and Eastern Cape York peninsula, Australia.
The status of the Eclectus Parrot is reasonably secure; their main threat comes from illegal logging, deforestation and possibly, climate change. These three main factors could lead to a major reduction of their habitat. Some birds are still trapped for the live bird trade, but these numbers are considered to be low. Most areas where Eclectus Parrots are found are now restricted. with many National Parks being developed. The majority of the subspecies are now locally protected. All known subspecies are now in captivity and captive breeding programs are in place to insure their future survival.
In aviculture, the Eclectus has become a very popular aviary species with many bred throughout the world. In the United States, the Eclectus Parrot has also become a popular household pet and many are bred for the pet trade. In Australia the Eclectus Parrot is seen in most aviaries and is among the top ten species kept. Here we only have a limited number of subspecies available and these are: The Grand Eclectus (the race that is found on Ambon), the New Guinea Eclectus, the Vosmaer’s Eclectus, the Aru Island Eclectus, the Australian Eclectus and a few Solomon Island Eclectus.
As a teenager, I started keeping and breeding Australian parrots. In my early adult years I progressed to Cockatoos, native Australian black cockatoos in particular. In the 1960s, I kept and bred all the black cockatoos with the exception of the Great Palm Cockatoo probosciger aterraimus macgillivrayi. In 1968 my family and I went on our first bird watching trip to the wilds of Cape York Peninsula in far North Queensland to study Palm Cockatoos in their natural habitat. It was during this trip that we started to notice these large bright red and almost iridescent green parrots flying through the rainforest. These, of course, were Eclectus Parrots Eclectus roratus macgillivrayi, the Australian subspecies.
Thus began a 32-year association with these remarkable parrots. I have kept and bred Eclectus Parrots in bird-park, zoological and commercial breeding situations with great results. Eclectus Parrots are good breeders either in separate individual breeding pairs, or set up as a breeding colony, i.e. multiple unrelated pairs to an aviary, providing that the aviary is large enough to house and accommodate the extra pairs and extra nesting sites provided. If a colony system is preferred, then care should be taken to make sure that the sub species are not mixed, which would produce crossbred birds. As breeders of these birds, we should only breed purebred birds.
I hope you find this site interesting and you share with me the enjoyment of these fascinating birds, the Eclectus Parrot.