Eclectus parrots comprise a species of parrot native
to northeastern Australia, New Guinea, the Maluku Islands,
the Solomon Islands, and Sumba. They exist across their
domain in both large and small populations, and have
a conservation status of "least concern." Though all
eclectus parrots are currently defined as one species,
there are nine recognized subspecies that are generally
isolated by location and tend to vary slightly in appearance,
most notably in color.
Eclectus parrots are best known for their unusually
dramatic sexual dimorphism, or difference in appearance
between animals of different sexes. Males are mostly
a vivid green in color with patches of blue and sometimes
red, while females are mostly deep red and purple in
color. Differences in color between subspecies mostly
consist of differences in shade, though some subspecies
have yellow feathers in certain areas. Females have
entirely black beaks, whereas males' beaks are mostly
yellow and orange.
Eclectus parrots have dense, stocky builds; strong,
curved, and wide beaks; strong legs; upright postures;
and short tails. They are medium-sized parrots, measuring
about 12-14 inches in length on average, with, coincidentally,
no marked difference in size between males and females.
Eclectus parrots require a diet high in fiber on account
of their very long digestive tracts. Because of this,
they feed primarily on fruits, nuts, some seeds, and
flower buds, and favor both the meat and seeds of pomegranates
and papayas. In captivity, however, eclectus parrots
will eat most fruits and a wide range of leafy greens,
other vegetables, seeds, and nuts that are not native
to their region of origin. In the wild, males retrieve
food and usually supply females with food through regurgitation.
Eclectus parrots normally reach sexual maturity between
the ages of two and three. After this point, the birds
breed polygynandrously, meaning that each male tends
to mate with more than one female, and each female tends
to mate with more than one male. To do this, males fly
from female to female, each of whom guards a hollow
in a large tree that she has claimed as hers and will
use as nesting grounds. Females lay two eggs at a time
and incubate them for roughly a month before hatching.
Female Eclectus parrots have a strong maternal instinct,
and have intriguing behaviors regarding mating. Females
constantly look for suitable places to nest, and become
so defensively territorial over a place she deems fit
that she may fight to the death with another female
for it. Females occupy and defend their tree hollows
for 11 months per year, rarely venturing outside of
them. Unpaired female parrots often lay unfertilized
eggs, and females may even incubate foreign eggs if
they are placed under her.
About the Author
Jacob Maddox manages content for Wildlife Animals http://www.wildlife-animals.com
an educational wildlife and animal website.