Eclectus parrots are a type of parrot native to Africa that differs primarily by the color of their breast feathers, rather than their color of the wings. Eclectus parrots tend to have a large domed head, and a short stubby tail. They average about 35 inches in length, and they exhibit white-toed feathery markings on their head, neck, chest and flanks. They also unusually exhibit genital asymmetry, a form of natural sexual dimorphism in which both genders possess differential colored marking.
Unlike most parrot species, Eclectus parrots live for only about thirty years, with some living up to forty years in captivity. These birds are extremely intelligent and playful, even when they are not trained. Some captive eclectus owners keep their pets for longer periods of time because of their ability to become free agents. Eclectus that have been trained to be servants in the kitchen for 30 years have shown signs of memory retention and intelligence. They can learn how to cook simple meals, such as rice and beans, but when it comes to larger meals, they are unable. Eclectus are also known for their ability to recognize and mimic the sounds of their owners and to learn and copy commands.
The only proven way to breed true Eclectus parrots is through interbreeding with the new guinea fowl species, the Cape robin. This pairing produces an offspring that has a true, working speaking ability, which can be recognized by its bright red eyes and its high-pitched singing. The bird is named “Solomon” by its owner and is also called “Jack” by other collectors. It was initially obtained from Guyana in South America, but was later shipped across the Atlantic Ocean to Boston, Massachusetts, where it was kept by an Eclectus breeder. The bird was returned to Guyana following a long absence and now is referred to as “solomon.”
Because the offspring of two different Eclectus parrots will have two completely different temperaments, the sex of each bird will have to be chosen carefully. Most breeders prefer to mate their birds with the same sex. This makes the birds’ lives easier when it comes to rearing and harvesting the fruits and seeds that are the characteristics of each specie. However, because certain specie’s are quite aggressive and domineering, if one specie is allowed to mate with a member of the opposite sex, the offspring will be timid and submissive. To prevent this, breeding two distinctly different species is often recommended.
Eclectus parrots are not very demanding birds, but they do require some extra care. Because the females of these parrots lay just as many eggs as the males, it is important to ensure that the nesting area has sufficient food and water so that the female can lay her eggs. It is also recommended that both Eclectus parrot be allowed to have at least four hours of daylight during the day, as well as some light at night. A good nesting area should be away from any trees, large or small, tall or short, and located away from places where the female may be harassed by predators such as hawks and eagles.
The diet of each Eclectus parrot should consist of a lot of seeds, fresh vegetables, and fruits. Parrot pellets are not a necessity, since the birds are herbivorous, but the pellets help to increase their fat intake and help to maintain healthy feathers. In addition to the aforementioned fruits and vegetables, carrot seeds should be included regularly. The nuts of each variety are especially nutritious and should be given twice a day, as well as some form of protein supplement if there are no live parrot seeds in the cage. These nutritious foods will keep the birds healthy, happy, and safe, and in turn, will make for a longer life for this species.