Eclectus Parrot Facts and Ruby and Kiwi at the Bloedel Conservatory

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A male and female Eclectus parrot at the Singapore Zoo (Photo by Doug Janson, CC BY-SA 3.0 license)

Eclectus parrots are beautiful birds. They are unusual because of their extreme sexual dimorphism (different appearance of the female and male). The female is red and blue in colour. The male is mostly bright green. A pair of Eclectus parrots live in the Bloedel Conservatory in Vancouver, which enables me to photograph them. The female is named Ruby and the male Kiwi.

The scientific name of the bird is Eclectus roratus.  The genus (the first word in the scientific name) is always capitalized. Some people follow that convention when writing the common name of the bird, which is the same as the genus name. Others don’t. I’ve chosen to capitalize it.

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The Bloedel Floral Conservatory

Queen Elizabeth Park

The Bloedel Conservatory is located in Queen Elizabeth Park, which like the conservatory is a lovely place to visit. The park is located on a small mountain whose peak is the highest site inside the city of Vancouver. The top of the mountain provides a great view of the city and its surroundings.

The park is best known for the conservatory and the two beautiful outdoor gardens created on the site of former quarries. It offers other attractions as well. It has a rose garden, an arboretum, an interesting fountain that changes its appearance, and a restaurant.

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Ruby at the Bloedel Conservatory

The Bloedel Floral Conservatory

The Bloedel Floral Conservatory (generally referred to as simply the Bloedel Conservatory) consists of a dome-shaped enclosure. The dome contains plants and free-flying birds that normally live in other parts of the world. The largest birds don’t fly, but the small ones do. It’s sometimes necessary to be careful as you walk around the conservatory because birds land on the path. The interior of the dome has a climate-controlled environment and is fascinating to explore.

Some of the birds—including Ruby and Kiwi—were adopted and have found a new home under the dome. The video below shows birds and plants inside the conservatory and includes views of Kiwi. He’s also shown in the frame below.

Pet and Wild Eclectus Parrots

I’ve had small parrots as pets, but I’ve never owned Eclectus parrots. Their colours are greatly admired, but there are more important factors to consider than appearance when getting a pet. Fortunately, Eclectus parrots seem to have some admirable qualities. They are said to be friendly and even affectionate birds that are intelligent and can learn how to talk. Friendliness in a pet bird depends partly on how it’s treated, however. Personal attention and good care are important. 

In the wild, the Eclectus parrot is found in Australia, New Guinea, Indonesia, and some of the Pacific Islands. Different subspecies with slightly different characteristics exist. The information in this post applies specifically to the wild birds, though some parts also apply to pet ones.

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Kiwi at the Bloedel Conservatory (photographed with a telephoto lens)

Physical Appearance

The male and female Eclectus parrots have such different colours that at one time they were believed to be different species. The birds have very fine feathers that look almost like hair, as shown in the photo of Kiwi above and on some of the other birds in this post. Both genders have a relatively short tail for a parrot.

Some key points regarding colour differences between the male and female are listed below. Different colours are seen depending on whether the birds are viewed from the back, front, or side and on whether their wings are open or closed. The males of the different subspecies are often hard to differentiate, but the females sometimes have slightly different colour patterns from one another.

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A front view of a male Eclectus parrot (Photo by Blacktator, CC0 public domain license)

Male

  • The male’s body is mainly green, at least when his wings are closed.
  • He has red patches on the side of his abdomen and under his wings.
  • The upper surface of his wings is green at the base and blue starting in the bend in the wings.
  • The upper surface of his tail is green at the base, blue in the last section, and white at the tip.
  • The lower surface of his tail is black.
  • His upper beak is orange and his lower one is black.
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Another view of a female (Photo by Dick Daniels, CC BY-SA 3.0 license)

Female

  • The female has a bright red head. 
  • A blue or purple band covers the the back of her neck or her upper back.
  • The upper surface of her wings is dark red with a blue or purple edge.
  • Her chest is red and her belly is blue or purple.
  • The upper surface of her tail is orange-red.
  • The lower surface of the tail is a mixture of orange and yellow.
  • Her bill is black.

Daily Life

The Eclectus parrot lives chiefly in rainforest at lower elevations, but it’s also seen in higher elevation forests, in scrubland, and on grassland that contains a few trees. The birds live and forage high in the tree canopy. They can be heard even if they can’t be seen due to the loud screeches that they produce.

According to the Queensland Government, wild Eclectus parrots can be seen singly, in pairs, and in small groups during the day and in large groups when they are roosting at night. In the morning, the birds leave their roost and move through the tree canopy to find food. They feed on fruits, nuts, seeds, and flowers. Some sources say they also eat buds and even nectar. When a particular good food source is found, the birds sometimes gather in large flocks to feast.

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A handsome pair (Photo by Hans, CC0 public domain license)

Reproduction

The female nests in a tree hollow. She lines the nest with wood chips and lays two eggs. She mates with more than one male (and males may mate with more than one female). Only the female incubates the eggs, but one or more of her male partners supports her and the nestlings by bringing them food.

Incubation lasts for around thirty days. The youngsters are ready to leave the nest around twelve weeks after being hatched. They are reproductively mature when they are two to three years old. The birds can live a long time. They often reach at least thirty years of age. Some have reached fifty.

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Eclectus roratus vosmaeri (Photo by Selena N. B. H, CC BY 2.0 license)


The female Eclectus roratus vosmaeri is distinguished by the purple pattern on her undersurface and the large amount of yellow under her tail.


Population Status

The population of Eclectus parrots as a whole is classified as “Least Concern” by the IUCN, or the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Some of the subspecies have problems, however, and are said by local authorities to have a vulnerable status. The IUCN says that although the population isn’t in trouble, it is decreasing, which could be a warning sign.

There are probably a lot of Eclectus parrots in captivity, though I don’t have statistics to back this idea up. I hope the birds continue to do well in the wild. In those areas where problems exist, I hope the situation improves soon.

References

  • Information about the Eclectus parrot from the Queensland Government Department of Environment and Science
  • Facts about the bird from the Australian Museum
  • Information about the subspecies of the parrot from the BeautyofBirds/AvianWeb site
  • IUCN entry for the Electus parrot
  • Facts about Ruby and Kiwi and their species from the Bloedel Conservatory blog
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