Home | Bird Breeding | Eclectus Parrots in the Wild and Captivity – Part 2

Eclectus Parrots in the Wild and Captivity – Part 2

In Part I of this article we discussed eclectus parrot (Eclectus roratus) behavior in the wild and captivity. Today I would like to focus on one of the more unusual facets Eclectus Parrot natural history – how a unique reproductive strategy has fostered a degree of sexual dimorphism (difference in appearance between the sexes) unknown among other parrots.

A Study in Contrasts – Sexual Dimorphism

Male and female eclectus parrots vary so much in appearance that they were believed to be different species by the first Female EclectusEuropeans to encounter them in Indonesia. Indeed, few bird species, and no other parrots, exhibit such extreme sexual dimorphism.

Female Eclectus Parrots are stoutly built and sport gorgeous red and vermillion feathers of several shades. Splashes of blue and lavender decorate the breast, and the bill is jet black.

In sharp contrast, males are streamlined in build and a brilliant emerald green in color. Shades of red, blue and yellow are distributed along the sides and wings. The bill of a mature male is decorated in red, orange and yellow.

The feathers of both sexes appear somewhat silky, and are often described as resembling fur, and they seem almost florescent in hue.

Why do the Sexes Differ So?

Juvenile Male EclectusVarious theories have been proposed to explain the Eclectus’ surprising sexual dimorphism. One relates the phenomenon to the differing life styles of the sexes. During the breeding season, females spend the majority of their days in and near the nesting hole. In their leaf-covered, dimly lit nesting areas, located high in the forest canopy, the deep reds and blues of their feathers blend in well with the shadows falling upon the bark, limbs and leaves.

Some ornithologists (bird biologists) believe that the female’s bright red color signals males that she is in possession of a rare and valuable resource – a secure nest site. It seems that a scarcity of suitable nesting holes has led Eclectus Parrots to evolve a breeding strategy unknown among their relatives. Several males may mate with a female who has been lucky enough to secure a nest site that is safe from pythons, monitor lizards and other predators.

Males forage widely and feed the females for much of the year. Their green plumage offers excellent camouflage among sunlit leaves.

Further Reading

For more on captive husbandry, please see our book on Eclectus Parrot Care.

For information on viewing Eclectus Parrots and other tropical birds in the wild, and to hear their calls, please see this link.


Juvenile Male Eclectus and Female Eclectus images referenced from wikipedia and originally posted by snowmanradio


  1. avatar

    do you know any thing about the eclectus parrots behavior to the wild

  2. avatar

    Hello, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Thanks for your interest in our blog.

    Part I of this article contains more information on this species in the wild; the field research study referenced there is also a good resource. Please write back if you have specific questions that are not covered there,

    Good luck and enjoy,

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

About Frank Indiviglio

Read other posts by

I believe that I was born with an intense interest in animals, as neither I nor any of my family can recall a time when I was not fascinated by creatures large and small. One might imagine this to be an unfortunate set of circumstances for a person born and raised in the Bronx, but, in actuality, quite the opposite was true. Most importantly, my family encouraged both my interest and the extensive menagerie that sprung from it. My mother and grandmother somehow found ways to cope with the skunks, flying squirrels, octopus, caimans and countless other odd creatures that routinely arrived un-announced at our front door. Assisting in hand-feeding hatchling praying mantises and in eradicating hoards of mosquitoes (I once thought I had discovered “fresh-water brine shrimp” and stocked my tanks with thousands of mosquito larvae!) became second nature to them. My mother went on to become a serious naturalist, and has helped thousands learn about wildlife in her 16 years as a volunteer at the Bronx Zoo. My grandfather actively conspired in my zoo-buildings efforts, regularly appearing with chipmunks, boa constrictors, turtles rescued from the Fulton Fish Market and, especially, unusual marine creatures. It was his passion for seahorses that led me to write a book about them years later. Thank you very much, for a complete biography of my experience click here.
Scroll To Top