Eclectus Parrots

Personality

Some of the descriptive words used by owners to describe their Eclectus companions are "charming, outgoing, curious, childlike, clever, playful, intuitive, and intelligent". The intuitive instinct of Eclectus parrots allows them to easily read our moods, which is responsible for owners bonding with them on a deeper level than they bond with other pets. Owners therefore feel more loyalty and devotion toward them than to other animal companions. The empathetic nature of the Eclectus accounts for the fact that fewer Eclectus parrots are found in rescue facilities. It takes some getting used for some new owners who are not accustomed to the laid back nature of the Eclectus. These birds "freeze" when faced with danger instead of flying wildly in an attempt to escape. This characteristic might be explained by the type of predators in their natural habitat since "movement" of the intended prey is used by many predators to locate their victims. Overall, the Eclectus is a good choice for those who appreciate a "thinking" companion bird. They study situations and can be observed problem solving when engaged in play.

Eclectus owners must be prepared for an ever-changing creature. Loving, dependent young birds mature into challenging and complex adult birds who remain affectionate, but on their terms. They need to be a part of family activity to keep their keen curiosity stimulated. They are not a pet to be ignored and treated like a beautiful decoration. They are adept at entertaining themselves but need regular interaction with their human flock mates which is after all, the reason that we acquire avian companions. Eclectus are amazingly gentle with children if the children are old enough and aware enough to be reasonably considerate of their size difference. Eclectus adapt well to change, but not to the stress of loud and angry exchanges in unhappy family situations. Just as fighting upsets children, tension and strife is stressful to these empathetic birds who sometimes internalise stress. This can cause feather destruction and other undesirable behaviours  Give them a happy home and you will be rewarded with a relatively quiet and steady companion whom you will come to regard as an equal member of the family rather than a "pet".

Talking ability

Eclectus parrots are generally classified among the top three parrots for talking ability. Rivalling the African Grey and the talking Amazon parrots in clarity of  speech and scope of vocabulary, they not only repeat many words and phrases but some learn entire songs. Some Eclectus chicks learn their first words before they are weaned if the hand-feeder repeats a word to them often. Eclectus parrots enjoy repeating interesting sounds as well as words and phrases learned from their human companions. They can imitate perfectly the sounds of a microwave oven, alarm clock, phone, or dripping faucet! Some males have melodious voices while others sound more like the men in their families, but nearly all Eclectus females have a charming, sweet and seductive voice, full and throaty like that of a "southern belle". As with all parrot species, there are birds that never learn more than "hello" and one must be prepared to love a bird even if it never talks. Most Eclectus do learn at least a few words.

DIET

Joseph M. Forshaw in PARROTS OF THE WORLD wrote, "Eclectus Parrots feed on fruits, nuts, seeds, berries, leaf buds, blossoms and nectar procured in the treetops... Gut contents from specimens collected in the eastern Solomons comprised soft, mainly fig-like, fruit; and from other birds collected, fruit pulp and many small fruit stones."

Variety seems to be the major clue that we can take from the foods provided by Mother Nature for Eclectus in their native habitats. I offer variety by feeding fresh juicy fruits, fibrous vegetables, leafy greens, a variety of sprouted seeds, nuts, dry seeds, and cooked foods. Cooked foods would not be found in the wild, but sweet potatoes, carrots, and other root vegetables contain some nutrients that require heat to break down the cell walls to be released. Eclectus find foods in all stages of growth in their treetop homes.

Sprouts are an easy way to provide living food with the many enzymes and trace nutrients found in the wild. Homegrown SPROUTS are the least expensive organically grown food available.

Greens are the most neglected component of the Eclectus diet. Few owners feed even one leafy green food daily although greens are the best non-dairy source of calcium, an important mineral, especially for egg-laying hens.

Nuts are "for the birds" not only because they are natural part to the parrot diet, but because they contain "good fats" which are important for health and feather quality.

Pellets can cause problems as a total or majority of the Eclectus diet, whose digestive system is efficient at extracting nutrients from foods. Their natural diet is comprised of foods that are "nutrient sparse" foods as opposed to "nutrient dense" foods like pellets. Since they assimilate nutrients so efficiently, they often exhibit symptoms such as "repetitive foot clenching and wing flipping" if oversupplemented or fed too many rich foods. Unless a vitamin or mineral deficiency is diagnosed by blood tests, Eclectus should not be given supplemental vitamins and minerals. Pellets contain a full complement of vitamins and minerals and apparently are too rich for the system of some Eclectus parrots. Natural juicy foods of deep color, including greens, sprouts, fruits and vegetables should be the mainstay of the Eclectus diet. They do not need vitamin A supplements nor shots, as was believed many years ago. They assimilate all the vitamin A that they need from the colorful orange, yellow, red, and green foods like pomegranates, mangos, cantaloupe, carrots, red and green bell peppers, kale, collards, dandelion and other greens. All parrots should be given organically grown produce whenever possible because of the damaging cellular effects of pesticides. If a complete diet of whole foods is given, pellets can be fed as a vitamin and mineral supplement but only as a small percentage of the total diet.

Entertainment

Parrots in the wild are busy creatures. Most of their time is spent locating food, water, and nesting sites. These natural activities are unnecessary in captivity so every effort must be made to provide activities to prevent boredom. Otherwise, feather plucking, screaming, and other undesirable behaviors can become a problem. Here are some ideas for entertaining the Eclectus parrot:

*Food toys--Make mealtime more like foraging in the wild by weaving greens through the cage bars, skewering whole fruits and vegetables such as apples and carrots, hanging coconut halves by a short length of chain. Give them whole nuts daily. The favorite nut of most Eclectus is the whole almond, which can serve as a half-hour game. Not only do they pick out the nutmeat, but they play with the shell until there is nothing left of the almond. Eclectus love the challenge of parrot toys that require manipulation to retrieve the food inside. These toys are available from many bird supply companies.

*Simulated trees--Play stands designed like trees or limbs can keep an Eclectus busy for hours, especially if interesting toys are attached and changed weekly. They love ropes for climbing, swings of all types, and especially the long spiral-shaped ropes called Boings or Bungees. There is a lot of bounce and movement in these spiral perches and some Eclectus will flap wildly to get them swinging. In the process, they get great exercise.

*Games & training--Eclectus are quite happy to engage in play with their owner(s). Games can be as simple as peek-a-boo or as complicated as teaching them a fun trick. There are several good books available on how to teach tricks. Any playful interaction with their favorite people is a favored pastime for these gregarious birds.

Other species to consider

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Hahns Macaw

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Crimson Bellied Conure

Senegal

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