What is an Eclectus?

wiseGEEK Writing Contest

Hundreds of different bird breeds exist in the trade today. Just when you think you’ve heard about them all, there are more to be discovered. Many breeds are now threatened, endangered or even extinct in the wild. Some that are kept as pets are commonly mislabeled and some even have names that are just simply difficult to remember.

An Eclectus is a breed of parrot that, while not terribly rare, isn’t always one of the first that comes to mind when someone thinks about pet birds.

Native to Australia and its surrounding islands, the Eclectus has several subspecies within the breed. These include the Solomon Island, Grand, Vosmaeri, and the Red Sided. There are more than the four mentioned here but these are the most common. Similar in size and appearance only slight differences separate most of the subspecies from each other, but to a seasoned Eclectus owner the differences are easy to spot.

Generally speaking, the Eclectus is a medium sized breed of bird that typically measures around 12 to 15 inches in length. Their wing span can be up to two and a half feet wide.

The Eclectus is a sexually dimorphic breed; meaning it’s easy to tell males from females simply through their appearance. In fact, they differ from each other so much that it was once thought that the two were of completely different breeds of birds. It wasn’t until the 20th century that it was it discovered that these are indeed the same breed of bird.

The striking coloration is often what draws people to the birds. Females have a prominent red head with a stunning contrast to their chest and underside feathers that can range from shades of violet to blue. The wings are a dark burgundy color with shades of black, green and blue on some of the feathers under the wings. With some subspecies, the tips of the tail feathers are highlighted in a bright yellow. Female Eclectus have a large high set black beak.

Many times males are overlooked standing in the shadows of the brightly colored females. However, males are just as gorgeous. Head, chest, underside and wings are covered in bright Kelly green feathers that have a hair-like appearance. On the underside of the wings you can find shades of red, blue and black. Male Eclectus have a large beak of a candy corn color.

While females are usually more reserved, one-person birds and males are typically friendlier and outgoing, both make wonderful pets for the right owner. A little more independent than some other birds, these guys are happy with lots of interaction with minimal cuddling. As with any kind of bird, they take a lot of care and husbandry. Eclectus aren’t known for being excessively loud but they do make their fair share of noise, making them inappropriate for apartment or condo living.

Proper diet is always important with parrots and Eclectus are no exception. In fact, these birds have been known to have food reactions to certain ingredients, man made materials and fortified vitamins. They can also react to perfumes and air fresheners as well so homes with these birds will do well to not have scented sprays, candles and plug-ins.

The Eclectus is a great parrot that isn’t too demanding. They still require several hours of interaction with their family, outside of the cage, every single day but they aren’t the needy type found with many Cockatoos, for example.

Stunning colorations, great personalities and an interesting history is what sets the Eclectus apart from many of the other parrots kept as pets today.

submitted by Faith Eversole