Charming, eye-catching, and intelligent, eclectus parrots are captivating birds that make impressive pets. Their beautiful colors, talking ability, and lovable personalities have established this bird as one of the most popular pet parrots. This bird is one of the larger parrot species, and it does require the right owner with plenty of time and space to house this bird.
Common Names: Eclectus parrot, Solomon Island eclectus parrot, Grand eclectus parrot, yellow-sided eclectus parrot, Vosmaeri eclectus parrot, blue-bellied eclectus parrot, red-sided eclectus parrot, dusky eclectus parrot
Scientific Name: Eclectus roratus
Adult Size: 17 and 20 inches, weighing 13 to 18 ounces
Life Expectancy: 30 to 50 years
Origin and History
Eclectus parrots live in tropical rainforests and originated in the Solomon Islands. Wild populations also live in northeastern Australia, Indonesian, the Moluccas, and New Guinea. Its name "eclectus" is derived from the word "eclectic" since the male and female species look so different.
In their native monsoon forests, eclectus nest high up in the trees. They usually manage to find a deep nest hole in a tree where they can lay their eggs and raise a family.
There are several eclectus parrot subspecies. The Solomon Island eclectus is the most common one in the pet trade.
The eclectus is a very friendly and intelligent bird species described as gentle, tranquil, and caring. Eclectus parrots are also affectionate. Most thrive best when socialization is part of their daily routine. They cherish the time they spend interacting with their families. They are also sensitive and can quickly become stressed if they feel neglected.
This bird will learn the routine and what to expect in your household. They enjoy the comings and goings, as well as being a part of it.
Around 18 months of age, the birds begin to reach sexual maturity. Sometimes this brings with it some aggression or the instinct to "feed" whatever is nearby. You may notice some naughty nipping behavior. This period is called bluffing, and it is best to ignore it and turn to distraction techniques instead of reinforcing it. With time, they pass through the phase and learn what's acceptable.
While both the males and females of the species make lovely pets, many owners claim that males tend to be a bit more trainable and agreeable. On the flip side, females may be less dependent on their owners and tend to handle stress better. Females may also be bossier and more aggressive than a male, particularly during breeding. Even in captivity, a female's nesting instincts remain strong. You might find her trying to nest in secluded areas of your home.
Speech and Vocalizations
Eclectus parrots join Amazons and African greys as being one of the best species for training to speak. They are quick to learn almost anything you want to teach them. Many people find them to be on the quieter side when compared to other parrots. They have a distinctive honk and other vocalizations that can be amusing the first few times, but loud and startling.
Eclectus Parrot Colors and Markings
Eclectus are known as sexually dimorphic, meaning that you can tell the sex of the bird by its physical characteristics. Male eclectus birds are a brilliant emerald green color with bright orange beaks and splashes of red and blue under their wings. By contrast, the females are mostly bright red with black beaks and deep purple markings on their chests and tails. Before the early 20th century, since the male and female birds looked so different, they were thought to be entirely two different species.
Instead of distinct lines found on many bird's feathers, eclectus feathers seem to blend. Their coloring makes for brilliant camouflage in their native habitat; you can often hear them before you can see them.
Caring for an Eclectus Parrot
Most eclectus birds can live in a multiple bird household, but some have jealous tendencies. Make sure to give an eclectus your undivided time and attention when introducing it or any new bird or your aviary.
An eclectus lives best in an aviary—11 feet long by 3 foot wide and 7 feet high— especially if you keep a pair. These birds like to fly, climb, and stay busy. If you do not have room for an aviary, then make sure the cage you provide is at the minimum 2 feet long by 3 feet wide and 4 feet tall.
This species can be a good fit for households with children as it has a gentle nature. However, they don't like to be startled and prefer a calm environment. They are not big fans of constant loud noises like barking, crying, or screaming. Thus, it's essential to consider if your family dynamic is a good match for the bird.
Common Health Problems
An eclectus is unique in that it sometimes exhibits toe-tapping and wing-flipping. This behavior is similar to feather plucking, which is a common issue with parrots that feel neglected. However, when all three of these actions occur in an eclectus, it can be a sign of a severe health issue. Nutritional deficiencies caused by excess vitamins and minerals (like vitamin A), fortified foods, or artificial ingredients as well as eating foreign objects like beads, or stress are probable causes. It's vital to see an avian vet right away.
Other health conditions that an eclectus is prone to getting include:
- Avian polyomavirus, an infection that causes skin tumors
- Constricted toe syndrome, a condition that causes circulation to be cut off to the bird's toe
- Psittacine beak and feather disease, a viral immune system disease
Diet and Nutrition
In the wild, these birds prefer pomegranate, papaya, and figs, though they'll also eat flowers, buds on trees, and a few seeds. When kept as a pet, their diet must include fresh fruits, vegetables, and carbohydrates. Cooked pasta or grain bake—a homemade casserole just for birds—will ensure they get all the necessary carbs.
The eclectus has a specialized digestive tract that is different from many other bird species. This bird needs to be fed a diet high in fiber and low in fat. It's also best to avoid too many vitamin and mineral supplements, which could lead to digestive tumors or abnormal behavior.
Avoid feeding parrot mixes that contain artificial dyes, flavorings, or preservatives. These additives could cause your pet to lose its beautiful color and may even be toxic for this sensitive species.
An eclectus' daily meal should be about 80 percent fruits and vegetables—the rest can be parrot pellets. Give seeds and nuts as occasional treats. Feed this bird twice a day, once upon rising, and 1 to 2 hours before bedtime. Offer 1 cup of fruits and vegetables and 1/3 cup of parrot mix at each feeding.
The eclectus are active birds and need plenty of room to exercise. They should have access to a large play stand and a bird-safe area for climbing and exploring. At the very least, provide an hour of free flight time before breakfast and another hour of free flight time before dinner.
You'll also want to provide these birds many perches of different materials and diameters, so their feet remain healthy. A climbing ladder, swings, and a slew of fun toys to beat up and chew on will also make the eclectus happy.
If provided with enough stimulation, they do a better job than many parrots at keeping themselves occupied when you're not around. The more challenges you can give these smart birds, the better.
Social, affectionate, and loves attention
Intelligent, generally, a great talking parrot
Quieter parrot than the other talking species
Needs an aviary or large cage to thrive
Does not like chaotic environments or constant loud sounds
Where to Adopt or Buy an Eclectus Parrot
Potential owners should spend time with several different birds, if possible, to find the one with a matching personality. Eclectus parrots are not as common as others, so you may have to seek out a specialty pet shop or breeder.
On average, breeders sell eclectus parrots from $1,000 to $3,000. Online rescues, adoption organizations, and breeders where you can find eclectus parrots include:
Look for a bird that is bright, alert, and active. Make sure the breeder is knowledgeable about their birds and is forthcoming about their breeding practices and the origin of their birds. They should provide you with helpful information for raising eclectus parrots and tell you about the bird's daily routine.
More Pet Bird Species and Further Research
If you are interested in similar species, check out:
- Blue and Gold Macaw Species Profile
- African Grey Parrot Species Profile
- Yellow-Naped Amazon Parrot Species Profile
Otherwise, check out all of our other parrot species profiles.
How long do eclectus parrots live?
While they have fairly long lifespans, eclectus parrots don't live as long as some other parrots that can reach 100 years or more. And surprisingly, these birds tend to live longer in the wild than they do in captivity as a general rule. This could be due to owners who don't feed their parrot a proper diet, or from stress brought on by noisy or unsuitable households.
Typically, eclectus parrots live up to 50 years in the wild, but generally live to be 25 to 30 in captivity.
Will a pet eclectus parrot lay eggs?
As you'd expect, a breeding pair of eclectus parrots should produce fertile eggs, typically two eggs at a time. The common mating season for these birds is a long one, stretching from around April through the rest of the year.
You might be surprised to find that a female eclectus parrot housed all by herself can also lay eggs. These eggs are not fertile, meaning they cannot hatch and produce a chick. But the parrot will treat the egg as if it is viable, and often will refuse to leave the egg for more than a minute or two to eat. Your parrot will likely continue to sit on the eggs for the full length of the normal incubation period, which is around four weeks long. After that time, the female bird generally abandons the eggs, and you can discard of them.
Don't discard of the egg until the female bird is finished "incubating" it, as that can distress the bird or encourage it to lay more eggs.
What are good toys for an eclectus parrot?
Like many other species of birds, captive eclectus parrots enjoy playing with a wide range of toys, and doing so helps provide stimulation for the bird's mind and body. You can provide a variety of toys for your bird's entertainment. Some good options include unsalted whole nuts in the shell, which your bird will enjoy cracking and eating, swings and perches, spiral perches that "bounce" as the bird sits on them, fresh strips of vegetables woven through the cage bars for the bird to untangle, soft pieces of wood for shredding, plastic beads or other small objects that the bird can throw about its cage, bells, cardboard for shredding, large strung wooden or plastic beads, and foraging toys, which require the bird to work out a way to access treats or food inside the toy.
Caring For an Eclectus Parrot. Summertree Animal & Bird Clinic, 2020