- Standard bird cages, bigger is generally better. Be sure it is not made out of galvanized metal because the zinc in the galvanizing is toxic to birds.
- In the wild, Eclectus parrots eat fruit, nuts, seeds, berries, flowers, and nectar.
- In captivity, they are fed pellets, fruit, vegetables, seeds, and mealworms.
- Feather destructive behavior is relatively common in this species.
Notes on Enrichment & Training
- Eclectus parrots are readily trainable using positive reinforcement methods. Suggested behaviors to train include:
- Stick: step on to transfer stick
- Perch: while on the stick, parrot will step on to a perch (including presentation perch, weighing perch, and perches inside enclosure.)
- Climb: use beak and feet to climb up perch
- Crate: combine with “Perch” behavior to have parrot move from stick to the perch in crate
- Hand: perch on the hand without biting
- Turn: while on a perch or stick, turn 180° to face the other direction. Extend to 360° spin
- Lift foot: hold up foot for 5+ seconds.
- Hold wings: hold his wings open for 5+ seconds
- Target: touch beak (without biting) to target stick
- Take: takes offered item (toy, etc.) with beak and holds it until cued
- Give: releases item in beak into trainer’s proffered open hand
Preferred reinforcers include praise and attention, grape pieces, nut pieces, apple pieces.
Colony or Breeding Management
Tips on Presentation
- Presented on a perch or stick for safety of handlers.
Tips on Handling
Comments from the Rating System
- Children’s Zoo at Celebration Square: Our female eclectus parrot is a relatively new acquisition for us (we’ve had her almost 3 years now). She is finally starting to be comfortable with new things within the zoo. She really likes human attention. She is also a surrendered pet. No abuse issues, they just didn’t have the time commitment anymore. Since all of our parrots except 1 were either surrendered or confiscated from the illegal pet trade we talk about that in every show and how they do not make good pets, even though they are really cool. She is fairly easy to handle and train. She was hesitant when she first came here, but is doing well now. She wants the attention so much she usually behaves well. We have her in a high traffic area on exhibit and do other programming with her out of exhibit around the zoo. She is a hit with the public due to her coloring and size. Kids do want to touch since she is smaller, but she is no contact with the public. She is not a biter, although she will put her beak on you if she doesn’t like something (but she doesn’t bite down usually). She does tend to fly if something scares her though (she jumps off the handler and goes to the ground). This behavior has improved since coming here, but it’s still her first reaction.
- Natural Science Center of Greensboro: Seemed more high-stress than other birds I have worked with.
- Philadelphia Zoo: Our female bird does not seem interested in interactions with humans and has been challenging to train as a result. In our attempts to train her for programs, she has become aggressive to the point of lunging and biting. We have retrained step up behaviors onto a t-perch to avoid the inconsistency of stepping up on the hand but even with multiple attempts with multiple trainers, she does not remain reliable for any handler that does not work with her several times daily. She does not have a good return on time investment as a result and is being phased out of program usage. Have heard but not experienced first hand that males are in general easier to work with and more interested in interactions. Our female is definitely not interested in interacting and this was even when she first fledged.
Natural History Information
Range and Habitat
Eclectus parrots are found in New Guinea, the Mollucas and Solomon Islands, and Australia.
The male has emerald green plumage with some blue feathers in the wings, and a yellow-orange beak. The female has a red head, black beak, maroon body, cobalt-purple breast feathers, and yellow tail. The two sexes look so different that they were thought to be two separate species.
Eclectus parrots are medium-sized parrots: 14 inches long with a wingspan of nearly 2 feet. The average weight of this species varies by subspecies and sex.
This species reaches sexual maturity between 2 and 5 years of age. Each breeding season, the female will lay 2 eggs per clutch. The female will incubate the eggs for 26 days, and the male will bring her food at frequent intervals. Nests are typically found in hollow tree trunks very high up. Eclectus parrots hatch blind, naked, and pink – but hearty.
Eclectus parrots can live for 60 years in captivity.
Eclectus parrots are found in pairs, or in flocks with up to 80 individuals. Females are said to be less commonly seen in the wild because their vibrant color makes them more shy than the naturally camouflaged males. In captivity, however, females are know to become notably aggressive with the change in seasons.
Threats and Conservation Status
Common predators are birds of prey, snakes, and humans. They were once fairly common in secondary and primary forests, but they have been heavily hunted for their plumage. Habitat destruction is also a major problem, with general deforestation and logging removing nest trees.
Did you know…
- There are 10 subspecies with a west to east decline in size and variation in color.
- Importation to the US for the pet trade started in the 1970s.
Any Documents to attach, species spotlights, etc.
- Check out sample animal policies, handling sheets, and fact sheets on our Example Policies & Guidelines page
- View past issues of Program Animal SAG Newsletters
Contributors and Citations
- The Philadelphia Zoo
- Happy Hollow Park & Zoo, San Jose
Top photo credit: Female Eclectus Parrot By DickDaniels (http://carolinabirds.org/) (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons