The strikingly beautiful Eclectus hails from the South Pacific. Depending upon which authority you believe, there are nine or 10 subspecies, but I am aware of only six presently available in the United States: Grand, Vosmaeri, Red-sided, Soloman Island, Biaki, and McGillivray. The first three listed are considered common, and the Soloman Island is becoming more easily available. Only 15 Biaki were brought into the United States a few years ago by some returning missionaries and I know of only two pairs that are producing at this time. And those pairs' offspring (which we purchased two years ago) are presently laying. I heard that a very small shipment of McGillivray arrived a few years ago, but some people refute that claim.
I have been told that when Eclectus were first introduced into the United States, many of the subspecies were hybridized and, unfortunately, that practice still exists at some facilities.
When considering the purchase of an Eclectus, it would be wise to obtain a photograph and arrange a consultation with an authority on Eclectus to determine whether or not the bird is a hybrid.
The color of the Eclectus varies somewhat in the different subspecies, mostly in the female. Known as the most color-dimorphic parrot in the world, the males and females were not too long ago thought to be two separate species.
The males are generally all translucent green with red underwings, but more red appears on the smaller subspecies. The Vosmarie male has a lemon yellow band on the end of his tail. All males have yellow to orange beaks which resemble pieces of candy corn.
The females are generally red, mauve and yellow, or red with a royal violet blue belly and underwings, with deep maroon wings. The beak is black.
Adding to the species' unique appearance, the plumage has the appearance of hair rather than feathers. Scattered gold strands give the translucent appearance.
When housing Eclectus, one must consider their large wingspan and accommodate them in the largest cage possible. Most of our cages are 3 ft. x 4 ft. x 5 ft., but we consider this to be on the small side. Most of our birds spend at least an hour a day exercise time outside the cage.
My Eclectus diet consists mostly of vegetables, fruits, legumes and pellets. Since Eclectus don't eat many seeds in the wild, and since seeds are deficient in many nutrients, we feel they are more crunch than lunch so they are the exception rather than the rule at our house.
The Eclectus requires a diet high in beta carotene and vegetable protein. Its digestive tract is longer than that of most parrot species, having a larger proventriculus and longer intestines.
Fat intake must be limited to prevent fatty tumors. Some fat, however, is
needed especially by youngsters who are very active, and to store the fat-soluble vitamins A, E, and D.
I use No-Oil Roudybush Maintenance Pellets for Hookbills. Too much oil in the diet can cause black feathers on both the male and female. These are easily distinguished from black stress marks or black liver disease marks because. the pattern is different. Some pelleted diets are high in sugar which can cause kidney problems or hyperactivity. Some are also high in artificial colors and flavors which can add to toxicity problems. There are some pelleted diets on the market which are organic but their lack of preservatives permits the growth of unwelcome yeast and bacteria if left in the cage for more than one hour.
One customer told me he thought his Eclectus was a hybrid-half Eclectus and half pig. It's true. I stay out of their way when they are eating. Our Eclectus are definitely not picky eaters. And they grow until they are about two years old.