Eclectus 101

Before we jump right into diet and nutrition let’s learn a bit about your Eclectus.

“Eclectus” (Psittaculini Eclectus roratus) is a nod to the word eclectic because these beauties are the most sexually dimorphic coloration of the entire parrot world. The males are varying shades of green(above left) depending upon their subspecies. They have brilliant red splashes of color on their wing bends and sides. From about one year of age, they have a striking “candy corn” beak. The females (above right) are varying shades of red, blue, lavender, and purple. The females of the Vosmaeri subspecies have an additional daisy yellow color on the tail. All adult females have a striking  black beaks.

Origin:

The majority of the recognizable subspecies hail from Far North Queensland Australia(Cape York Peninsula), Indonesia, The Solomon Islands and New Guinea. Of these subspecies only a select few are available to aviculturist. They are the Grand, Red Sided, Vosmaeri , and Solomon Island subspecies.

Abilities:

With a top 3 rank in talking ability Eclectus parrots rival the African Grey and the talking Amazon parrots in clarity of speech and scope of vocabulary, they not only repeat many words and phrases but some learn entire songs.

Housing:

As we teach with all other companion birds you should provide the largest cage you can, but your eclectus needs plenty of room to exercise it’s beautiful big wings. We recommend a cage of a  minimum width of 3 feet (approximately 1 meter) and the height of the regular Macaw cage. These tall vertical cages allow for the placement of swings and/or nets while leaving ample room for natural branches, foraging puzzles and treasure troves of foot toys. Wood chewing toys are the means by which parrots keep the beaks in check and groomed to the proper length.  Along the same lines natural branches and  cement type perches  are the means by which the feet are kept in perfect groom.

Lifespan:

While Eclectus are a fairly recent species and not an abundance was known about the special dietary needs when the first imports arrived.  Feed on an all seed diet, many did not fare well. Studies discovered their need for fibrous fruits and veggies, allowing a confident estimate of a lifespan comparable to an Amazon or a Grey.

Volume:

Generally speaking for a parrot of this size, the Eclectus is very quiet, to the point of being a perfect apartment dweller, however, there are exceptions to any rule, and quiet is not always their nature. Just be aware they do have a very loud warning alarm call. This is not used often.

Routine:

The normal 10 to 12 hours dark sleep (you may need to cover the cage) is perfect for you Eclectus, as with all other companion birds. If this is a bit shy of the mark, you will notice frequent naps during the day. Young fledglings have a schedule much like a new puppy, play hard and then sleep hard for about an hour.

Diet :

Eclectus have a very specialized dietary and nutritional needs.

Eclectus diets are different to that of any other parrot species. The Eclectus has a longer digestive tract and some can do poorly on seed or pellet diet. Diets high in pellets have been known to cause Eclectus parrots to have an overdose in vitamins (hypervitaminosis) which can result in feather destruction, toe tapping and unwanted behaviors such as screaming and/or aggression.

Some Eclectus parrots are more sensitive to their diets than others. Colored or artificial pellets can also have an impact on some Eclectus health. It is not recommended to feed an Eclectus any sort of commercial pellet.

The digestive tract of the Eclectus is  longer than usual meaning, the food they eat takes longer to digest. This allows  absorption of  low nutrient foods such as a raw natural food diet. This ability is not shared by any other parrot species.

While some parrot owners swear by a seed and pellet diet, it does not mean it is  healthy or an ideal diet for them. Some Eclectus are said to appear fine and healthy while on these diets, but the long term effects can result in a shorter life span, sudden death or health problems as the Eclectus ages. Eclectus are native canopy feeders, eating many fruits, nuts, and seeds of rainforest plants.

They are not obligate frugivorous, (fruit eaters) but as much as 80% of their wild diet is reported to be fruit in some ecological studies.  They have adapted to such a diet which is very rich in fiber by virtue of a longer-than-usual digestive tract. It is also known that they require a diet rich in β-carotenes (which are converted as needed to vitamin A), and plant proteins.

 Eclectus parrots are critically dependent on their diet to help maintain health.  Problem behaviors, and vices such as feather picking, toe tapping and wing flapping are a direct result of poor nutrition. Fruit and Veggies should be the main part  of your Eclectus diet. Their extra long digestive tract and extra high sensitivity to foods and vitamins means you need to be careful with the diets. The larger the variety of fruit and veggie the better.  They also require high vitamin A, and high vegetable protein. Berries and fruit on a  daily basis. The brighter (yellows, oranges and reds) the  fruit and veggies the higher the nutritional value.

Dark green (kale collards and chard are examples of these) are also high in nutrition. The paler the green, the more water content and less the nutritional value (celery and iceberg lettuce are great examples of this). Fruit and Veggie mixes should be as different as you can make them for each meal. Eclectus do tend to get bored with eating the same food every day, so a large variety is important to keep them interested in eating. We have a variety of Eclectus Friendly treat recipes in our Recipe Box to assist in keeping your companion Eclectus excited about the diet.

You can also add a variety of nuts (excluding peanuts) and sprouted seeds and legumes  to the fruit and veggie mixes.Almonds are one of the healthiest nuts (excellent calcium) and it also one of the most popular nuts chosen by the Eclectus, however all nuts should be given in moderation and part of a balanced diet for your companion birds.

For a variety of veggie suggestions and chop recipes please check out our diet files and the foraging cup recipes listed in the gallery and our Facebook forum. Most of all enjoy you new companion.   Thanks to the many very knowledgeable aviculturist that help compile this how to file. I myself have learned an immense amount about the dietary needs of an Eclectus.