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Eclectus roratus

Eclectus roratus (*)

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Cladus: Unikonta
Cladus: Opisthokonta
Cladus: Holozoa
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Superphylum: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Megaclassis: Osteichthyes
Cladus: Sarcopterygii
Cladus: Rhipidistia
Cladus: Tetrapodomorpha
Cladus: Eotetrapodiformes
Cladus: Elpistostegalia
Superclassis: Tetrapoda
Cladus: Reptiliomorpha
Cladus: Amniota
Classis: Reptilia
Cladus: Eureptilia
Cladus: Romeriida
Subclassis: Diapsida
Cladus: Sauria
Infraclassis: Archosauromorpha
Cladus: Crurotarsi
Divisio: Archosauria
Cladus: Avemetatarsalia
Cladus: Ornithodira
Subtaxon: Dinosauromorpha
Cladus: Dinosauriformes
Cladus: Dracohors
Cladus: Dinosauria
Ordo: Saurischia
Cladus: Eusaurischia
Subordo: Theropoda
Cladus: Neotheropoda
Cladus: Averostra
Cladus: Tetanurae
Cladus: Avetheropoda
Cladus: Coelurosauria
Cladus: Tyrannoraptora
Cladus: Maniraptoromorpha
Cladus: Maniraptoriformes
Cladus: Maniraptora
Cladus: Pennaraptora
Cladus: Paraves
Cladus: Eumaniraptora
Cladus: Avialae
Infraclassis: Aves
Cladus: Euavialae
Cladus: Avebrevicauda
Cladus: Pygostylia
Cladus: Ornithothoraces
Cladus: Ornithuromorpha
Cladus: Carinatae
Parvclassis: Neornithes
Cohors: Neognathae
Cladus: Neoaves
Cladus: Telluraves
Cladus: Australaves
Ordo: Psittaciformes

Familia: Psittaculidae
Subfamilia: Psittaculinae
Tribus: Psittaculini
Genus: Eclectus
Species: Eclectus roratus
Subspecies: E. r. cornelia – E. r. macgillivrayi – E. r. polychloros – E. r. riedeli – E. r. roratus – E. r. solomonensis – E. r. vosmaeri – †E. r. westermani

Eclectus roratus (Statius Muller, 1776)

Psittacus roratus (protonym)


Vollständiges Natursystem Supplement: 77.

Vernacular names
مصرى: ببغاء اكلكتس
беларуская: Зялёна-чырвоны высакародны папугай
български: Благороден папагал
català: Lloro eclèctic
čeština: Eklektus různobarvý
Cymraeg: Parot eclectws
dansk: Ædelpapegøje
Deutsch: Edelpapagei
English: Eclectus Parrot
español: Loro ecléctico
فارسی: طوطی اکلکتوس
suomi: Avoparikaija
français: Grand Éclectus
עברית: תוכי אקלקטוס
magyar: Nemespapagáj
Bahasa Indonesia: Nuri bayan
italiano: Pappagallo eclettico
latviešu: Smalkais papagailis
кырык мары: Эклектус
Nederlands: Edelpapegaai
norsk nynorsk: Edelpapegøye
ଓଡ଼ିଆ: ହୀରାମନ୍
polski: Barwnica zwyczajna
پنجابی: ایکلیکٹس طوطا
русский: Благородный зелёно-красный попугай
slovenčina: Ladniak krátkochvostý
svenska: Ädelpapegoja
ไทย: นกแก้วอิเคล็กตัส
中文: 折衷鹦鹉

The eclectus parrot (Eclectus roratus) is a parrot native to the Solomon Islands, Sumba, New Guinea and nearby islands, northeastern Australia, and the Maluku Islands (Moluccas). It is unusual in the parrot family for its extreme sexual dimorphism of the colours of the plumage; the male having a mostly bright emerald green plumage and the female a mostly bright red and purple/blue plumage. Joseph Forshaw, in his book Parrots of the World, noted that the first European ornithologists to see eclectus parrots thought they were of two distinct species. Large populations of this parrot remain, and they are sometimes considered pests for eating fruit off trees. Some populations restricted to relatively small islands are comparably rare. Their bright feathers are also used by native tribespeople in New Guinea as decorations.

1 Taxonomy
1.1 Subspecies
1.2 Dubious subspecies
2 Description
3 Diet
4 Breeding
5 Aviculture
6 References
7 External links


Ornithologists usually classify the eclectus parrot as a member of tribe Psittaculini in the family Psittacidae of order Psittaciformes. However, some recent thoughts indicate a great deal of commonality between the eclectus parrot and the Lorini tribe.[verification needed]

Sir D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson noted similarities in the skull were noted between the eclectus parrot and members of the genus Geoffroyus, specifically in the auditory meatus and the prefrontal reaching but not joining the squamosal bones. The skull of members the genus Tanygnathus is also generally similar.[2]

The eclectus parrot is the most sexually dimorphic of all the parrot species. The contrast between the brilliant emerald green plumage of the male and the deep red/purple plumage of the female is so marked that the two birds were, until the early 20th century, considered to be different species.

Although the eclectus parrot is the only extant species in the genus Eclectus, fossil remains of another species, the oceanic eclectus parrot (Eclectus infectus), have been found in archaeological sites in the islands of Tonga and Vanuatu.[3] The species presumably existed in Fiji, as well. E. infectus had proportionally smaller wings than the eclectus parrot. The species became extinct after the arrival of humans 3000 years ago, presumably due to human-caused factors (habitat loss, introduced species).
Female E. r. vosmaeri at North Carolina Zoo, no other subspecies combines a purple abdomen and clear yellow undertail coverts.

Nine subspecies of eclectus parrots are known, although the species as a whole needs reviewing. Access to some regions where the species occurs is difficult due to geographical or political reasons, hence field observations have been limited. Furthermore, many skins collected in the early part of the 19th century have deteriorated in some museums.[4] However, most eclectus skins in US museums are in good condition. In captivity in the U.S., some of the most common subspecies are the Solomon Island, Vosmaer's, and the New Guinea red-sided.

E. r. roratus, known as the grand eclectus, is found on Buru, Seram, Ambon, Saparua, and Haruku in the southern Maluku Islands. The subspecies begins intergrading with race vosmaeri on Seram.[5]
E. r. vosmaeri, known as Vosmaer's eclectus or Vos eclectus, was originally described by Rothschild and is named after Dutch naturalist Arnout Vosmaer, who described the bird in his writings in 1769, noting it as new to science, based upon a female individual discovered in his collection.[6] Larger in size than the nominate subspecies with more yellow in the plumage, it is found on islands in the North Maluku province. The male has more yellow-toned plumage on the head and neck. The tail is bluer and has a small pale lemon yellow border. The female is a brighter red on the head, back, and wings. Her undertail coverts are yellow and at least an inch of the tail is bright pure yellow.[5] Vosmaer's eclectus is the most commonly kept subspecies in aviculture.[7]
E. r. cornelia, known as the Sumba Island eclectus parrot, is restricted to Sumba island in the Lesser Sunda Islands. Also larger than the nominate, the male is a paler shade of green overall and has a bluer tail. The female has an all red plumage, except for the primaries which are a dark royal blue.[5]
E. r. riedeli, known as the Tanimbar Islands eclectus parrot, is found on the Tanimbar Islands. It is smaller than the nominate race. The male has a more bluish tinge to its green cheeks and neck, and its tail is edged with a broad band of yellow. The female has an all red plumage, except for royal blue primaries and a broad band of yellow to edge the tail.[5]
E. r. polychloros, known as the New Guinea red-sided eclectus parrot, was named by Scopoli. Larger than the nominate race, the green plumage of the male only has a slight yellow tinge and the tail is tipped with a half-inch yellow band. The central tail feathers are green and lateral ones blue and green. It is widely distributed from Kai Islands and western islands of the West Papua province in the west, across the island of New Guinea to the Trobriands, D'Entrecasteaux Islands, and Louisiade Archipelago to the east. It has also been introduced to the Goram Islands, Indonesia.[5]
E. r. macgillivrayi, known as the Australian eclectus parrot, was named by Gregory Mathews in 1912. It is found on the tip of Cape York Peninsula. It resembles E. r. polychloros, but is larger overall.[5]
E. r. solomonensis, known as the Solomon Island eclectus parrot, resembles E. r. polychloros, but is smaller overall with smaller bills and paler orange in the upper mandible of the male. The green of the male has a more yellow tint, quite similar to the green of E. r. vosmaeri.[5]

In 2019, Birdlife International proposed that the eclectus parrot be split into four species,[8] which are also recognized by the IUCN Red List.[9]

Moluccan Eclectus (Eclectus roratus) - including subspecies voesmaeri

Papuan Eclectus (Eclectus polychloros) - including subspecies aruensis, biaki, macgillivrayi, and solomonensis

Sumba Eclectus (Eclectus cornelia)

Tanimbar Eclectus (Eclectus riedeli)

Dubious subspecies

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Aru Island eclectus parrot (E. r. aruensis) – While some believe this bird is doubtfully valid from E. r. polychloros, others believe it is a distinct subspecies, as the rich yellow on the tail tip of the male often is infused with pink, orange, or bright red. At this point, no male eclectus in other subspecies has been described with this type of tail feather coloring. The Aru Island eclectus specimens are also larger than E. r. polychloros, often weighing 100 grams or more than E. r. polychloros.
Biak Island eclectus parrot (E. r. biaki) – While some believe the Biak eclectus is doubtfully valid from E. r. polychloros, others believe it is a distinct subspecies due to the size difference, vocalization, and behavior differences.
Westerman's eclectus parrot (E. r. westermani) – Many of the museum specimens have clipped wings and clipped tails, and no uniformity is seen in the coloration of the female specimens, indicating the likelihood of these specimens being crossbred aviary birds. However, Joseph Forshaw doubted it was an aberration, and its status remains unclear. If it ever existed, it is extinct today.[10]

An adult male at Malagos Garden Resort, Davao City, Philippines

The Eclectus Parrot is unusual in the parrot family for its marked visible light sexual dimorphism in the colours of the plumage. A stocky short-tailed parrot, it measures around 35 cm (14 in) in length. The male is mostly bright green with a yellow-tinge on the head. It has blue primaries, and red flanks and underwing coverts. Its tail is edged with a narrow band of creamy yellow and is dark grey edged with creamy yellow underneath, and the tail feathers are green centrally and bluer as they get towards the edges. The grand Eclectus female is mostly bright red with a darker hue on the back and wings. The mantle and underwing coverts darken to a more purple in colour, and the wing is edged with a mauve-blue. The tail is edged with yellowish-orange above and is more orange tipped with yellow underneath. The upper mandible of the adult male is orange at the base fading to a yellow towards the tip, and the lower mandible is black. The beak of the adult female is all black. Adults have yellow to orange irises and juveniles have dark brown to black irises. The upper mandible of both male and female juveniles are brown at the base fading to yellow towards the biting edges and the tip.[5]

The above description is for the nominate race. The abdomen and nape of the females are blue in most subspecies, purple abdomen and nape in the subspecies (roratus) and lavender abdomen and nape in the (vosmaeri) subspecies from the north and the central Maluku Islands, and red abdomen and nape in the subspecies from Sumba and Tanimbar Islands (Cornelia and riedeli). Females of two subspecies have a wide band of yellow on the tail tip, riedeli and vosmaeri which also have yellow undertail coverts. The female vosmaeri displays the brightest red of all the subspecies, both on the head and body. They don't tend to talk in clear voices until they are 1 year old.

The diet of the eclectus in the wild consists of mainly fruits, wild figs, unripe nuts, flower and leaf buds, and some seeds. In captivity, they eat most fruits including mangos, figs, guavas, bananas, melons, stone fruits, grapes, citrus fruits, pears, apples, pomegranate, and papaya (pawpaw). The eclectus has an unusually long digestive tract,[11] so tolerates a high-fiber diet. In captivity, the eclectus parrot benefits from specially formulated pellets, fruits, vegetables, leafy greens such as endive and dandelion, and a small amount of seeds and nuts such as almonds and walnuts.
A seven-week-old male chick that has been hand reared for the pet trade

In its natural habitat, the eclectus nests within hollows in large, emergent rainforest trees. Suitable hollows are at a premium and the hen vigorously defends her chosen nesting site from other females (perhaps even fighting to the death), remaining resident at 'her tree' for up to 11 months of the year, rarely straying from the entrance to her hollow and relying on multiple males to feed her via regurgitation. Males may travel up to 20 km to forage and up to five males will regularly provide food for each female, each competing with the others for her affections and the right to father her young. Unlike other parrot species, eclectus parrots are polygynandrous—females may mate with multiple male suitors and males may travel from nesting site to nesting site to mate with multiple females. This unique breeding strategy may explain the pronounced sexual dimorphism of the eclectus, as the female must remain conspicuous at the entry to the nest hole (to advertise her presence at her hollow to males and rival females), but well hidden when in the depths of the nest, because the red color hides her well in the darkness. The male is primarily a brilliant green color, which offers camouflage amongst the trees whilst foraging. However, the plumage of both sexes appears spectacular when viewed in the ultraviolet spectrum, an ability which predators such as hawks and owls lack.[12]

Two white 40.0 mm × 31.0 mm (1.57 in × 1.22 in) eggs are laid, which are incubated for 28–30 days. Young fledge at about 11 weeks.[13] Although eclectus parrots may reach sexual maturity earlier or later, they usually reach it between 2–3 years.[14]

Eclectus hens have a strong maternal instinct, which is displayed in captivity, where they constantly seek possible nesting places, climbing into cupboards, drawers, and spaces beneath furniture, and becoming very possessive and defensive of these locations. An unpaired hen may go on to lay infertile eggs with little encouragement in the spring. It is often possible to place abandoned eggs from other parrot species beneath a broody eclectus hen, which she will readily accept and then incubate to the point of hatching, even rearing the hatched chick up to the point it is removed from the nest.

Adult females with poor nest hollows often commit infanticide on the male, if they produce both a male and a female chick. Inadequate nest hollows have a habit of flooding in heavy rain, drowning the chicks or eggs inside.[15] This reported infanticide in wild pairs may be the result of other causes, since this behavior where the hen selectively kills male chicks is not observed in captive birds.
Adult female at Rosamond Gifford Zoo, USA
A pet juvenile male. The upper mandible has a brown base and yellow tip, and the irises are dark brown/black.
Eclectus roratus egg - MHNT

Eclectus parrots are one of the more popular birds kept in captivity, as either parent or hand reared. Unlike many other species of parrot they are relatively easy to breed yet difficult to hand feed.[16]

Eclectus parrots are generally calm birds in captivity, displaying a pensive affect when faced with novel items or situations,[17] which may give rise to the mistaken impression that the species is 'dull-witted'.[18] The eclectus may also exhibit more neophobia than other species of companion bird.[17] Eclectus parrots are prone to feather destruction (picking, pulling, cutting, and / or barbing) in captivity.[19]

While the subspecies E. r. vosmaeri is the most commonly kept in aviculture over all,[20] many eclectus parrots in captivity in Australia are apparently hybrids between subspecies E. r. polychloros and E. r. solomonensis, as Taronga Zoo Sydney had a flock of these two subspecies in a large aviary many years ago. Specimens of the Australian subspecies E. r. macgillivrayi have only recently entered the aviculture market in Australia and are more expensive.[21]

The average lifespan of the eclectus parrots in captivity is unknown, since these birds were not kept in captivity in great numbers until the 1980s.[22] Some sources consider the lifespan to be 30 years.[23] The maximum reliably recorded longevity for this species is 28.5 years, but a lifespan of 40.8 years has also been reported.[24]

Eclectus parrots in captivity are prone to "toe tapping" - characterized by involuntary extension and contractions of the muscles of the feet that cause the bird to constantly tap its toenails against a perch. It is believed to be related to bird's diet and may be a result of providing the eclectus with food fortified with vitamins, processed food intended for humans (particularly containing man-made vitamins or preservatives) or food containing spirulina.[25]

BirdLife International (2019). "Eclectus roratus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2019: e.T155072212A155636053. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2019-3.RLTS.T155072212A155636053.en. Retrieved 12 November 2021.
Thompson, D'arcy W (1900). "On characteristic points in the cranial osteology of the parrots". Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London (1899): 9–46.
Steadman D. (2006) "A New Species of Extinct Parrot (Psittacidae: Eclectus) from Tonga and Vanuatu, South Pacific." Pacific Science 60(1): 137–145 abstract
Marshall, pp. 30–31.
Forshaw, Joseph M. & Cooper, William T. (1978). Parrots of the World (2nd ed.). Melbourne: Landsdowne Editions. pp. 202–07. ISBN 0-7018-0690-7.
Winters, Ria. "VOSMAER'S ECLECTUS". World Parrot Trust. Retrieved 5 January 2021.
"Vosmaeri Subspecies of the Eclectus Parrot - Graham Taylor - 60 Year Eclectus Expert". 12 May 2015.
"Archived 2019 topic: Eclectus Parrot (Eclectus roratus) is being split: Assessment of newly recognised taxa". 23 May 2019.
"Sumba Eclectus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 6 August 2019. 6 August 2019. Retrieved 31 December 2020.
Hume, J. P.; Walters, M. (2012). Extinct Birds. A & C Black. ISBN 978-1408157251.
Bacon, Constance (1996). "Eclectus Parrots". AFA Watchbird. 23 (3).
Heinsohn, Robert (February 2009). "Eclectus' true colors revealed" (PDF). Bird Talk Magazine. pp. 38–73. Retrieved 15 March 2010.
"Eclectus Parrot (Eclectus roratus)". World Parrot Trust – Parrot Encyclopedia. Retrieved 9 November 2019.
"Vetafarm" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 March 2012. Retrieved 13 May 2011.
"Researchers reveal baby-killer birds". 20 October 2011. Retrieved 21 October 2011.
Castle, Mark; Cullion, Cheryl; Becker, Mike (1985). "Hand-Rearing Eclectus Parrots at the Franklin Park Zoo". AFA Watchbird. 12 (4).
"Eclectus Parrot, vet-approved bird breed information". Zoological Education Network. Retrieved 15 March 2010.
Lightfoot, Teresa L. (2001). "Avian Behavior – An Introduction". Proc. Atlantic Coast Veterinary Conference. Archived from the original on 2 December 2008. Retrieved 15 March 2010.
Kubiak, Marie (2015). "Feather plucking in parrots". In Practice. BMJ. 37 (2): 87–95. doi:10.1136/inp.h234. ISSN 0263-841X. S2CID 58549054.
"Vosmaeri Subspecies of the Eclectus Parrot - Graham Taylor - 60 Year Eclectus Expert". 12 May 2015.
Forshaw, 2006
Lindholm, Joseph H. (1999). "An historical review of parrots bred in zoos in the USA". The Avicultural Magazine. 105 (4).
"Eclectus Parrots: Species information and Photos". Retrieved 28 December 2010.
"An age entry for Eclectus roratus". The Animal Ageing and Longevity Database. Retrieved 28 August 2014.

Desborough, Laurella; Speer, Brian J. "Toe Tapping from the Combined Perspectives of an Eclectus Owner and an Avian Veterinarian". Aves International. Retrieved 1 January 2021.

Garnett, S. (1993). "Threatened and Extinct Birds Of Australia". Raou Conservation Statement. Canberra, Australia: National Library; Royal Australian Ornithologists Union. ISSN 0812-8014.

Marshall, Rob; Ward, Ian (2004) [1991]. A Guide to Eclectus Parrots as Pet & Aviary Birds (2nd ed.). South Tweed Heads, NSW: ABK Publications. ISBN 0-9750817-0-5.

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