The eclectus parrot (Eclectus roratus) is found throughout Papua New Guinea and Indonesia. It is common as far east as Sumba and as far west as the Solomon Islands. Other native areas include parts of central Australia as well as the entire coastal area of the continent. Areas where the eclectus parrot have been introduced include Palau, Singapore, and the Goram Islands. (Forshaw, 2010; Jones, et al., 1995)
Eclectus parrots are known to reside in densely populated forests, often near water or coastal areas. They are commonly observed in regions that have tropical climates and tall trees. They nest anywhere from 14 to 22 meters above the ground, typically away from the forest interior. The nests tend to have an entrance that is 25-30 cm in length and anywhere from 60 cm to 300 cm deep. Their habitat elevation ranges from 14 meters to 1,000 meters. Eclectus parrots are often seen in flocks, or occasionally alone or in pairs. (Forshaw, 2010; Marsden and Fielding, 1999)
The eclectus parrot is sexually dimorphic, meaning male and females are differently colored. While both sexes are similar in size the males tend to be larger and the females have brigther plumage. All chicks are hatched with grey down feathers on them. As their feathers start to emerge the sex of the chick can be determined. On average, adult eclectus parrots weigh 500-600 grams and have an average length of between 105-133 millimeters. The wingspans of eclecrus parrots are between 228 millimeters and 247 millimeters. (Cameron, 2012; Forbes, 1877; Forshaw, 2010; Wang, et al., 2012)
The males are primarily green and quite colorful. They have a yellow tinted crown and blue coloring throughout the primaries. Their wing coverts are red, as are the feathers on the underside of the wing.The tail feathers are shades of green, blue, and yellow-ish white towards the tip. The males have grey legs. Their mandible is coral colored on the top and black on the bottom.They are approximately 115-133 mm long. (Cameron, 2012; Forbes, 1877; Forshaw, 2010; Wang, et al., 2012)
The females are noticeably different. They are mostly red, with darker burgundy color on the wing coverts. The breast of the females are dull purple. There are tints on the back and rump. The abdomen of the female is a dull purple, as are the under wing coverts. Their mandible is quite different than the males, being completely black.The females range in size from 105-119 mm in length. (Cameron, 2012; Forbes, 1877; Forshaw, 2010; Wang, et al., 2012)
The nine subspecies of Eclectus roratus can be distinguished based on varying color and relative body size. E. r. vosmaeri are larger in size and are more brightly colored with other pronounced yellow markings on the male and female. E. r. westermani more dull and often considerably smaller. E. r. cornelia is generally larger; males have more green on the dorsal side while females are entirely red with colorful markings. E. r. riedeli is smaller and both male and females have more blue, red, and purple coloring. E. r. polychloros is more brightly colored and larger in size. E. r. biaki is larger, these females have more bright red on their neck. E. r. aruensis differ mostly in coloration. The males have more yellow tails, and the females have more red with less black than do Eclectus roratus they are similar to E. r. polychloros. E. r. macgillivrayi is like E. r. polychloros but larger. E. r. solomonesis resemble E. r. polychloros, but have smaller relative size and have smaller beaks, markings on males tend to be more green than yellow. (Forshaw, 2010)
These birds are considered polyandrous, meaning the females have multiple partners. This occurs when only one female inhabits an area with multiple females. They can be polygynandrous, which means that there are multiple sexual partners for both male and females. When there are multiple females in an area this may take place. Males and females will compete for reproductive resources for different reasons. Females often are challenging other members of their species as well as other species for nesting. A majority of their time is spent in gamete formation and protection of their egg(s). Their partnerships will be chosen based on the location of a home with enough resources to successfully reproduce. Females will mate with males in an area where food resources and protection is abundant. Males will spend more time looking for females that have desirable traits. In order to attract mates, females may sit in the opening of their hollow and show the bright red feathers of the underwing. Males typically bring food to females who are nesting and will take interest in females using this display of attraction. To get the attention of females, there is a special component to the males’ plumage, UV coloration which appeals especially to female parrots. Most parrots are bonded before their mating, and will reacquaint by preening. Attraction of a mate usually consists of bowing, wing-flapping, and other eccentric behavior to obtain attention. (Heinsohn and Legge, 2003; Heinsohn, 2008a; Heinsohn, 2008b)
Eclectus parrots of both sexes are in competition for the best resources for reproduction. Mates are chosen based on their benefit to successful hatchlings and fledglings. A group may consist of more males than females, due to female competition for dry hollows. Females will incubate the egg(s) for an average of 28 days, while multiple males provide them with food and often protection. They are cooperative breeders. Males have the ability to manipulate their bodies, depending on their environment, in order to camouflage themselves or attract the attention of females. Eclectus parrots nest mainly in tree hollows found throughout the rainforest, close to the ground. Their breeding period is from April to December, depending on the location. In countries further north, the interval may be from May to January. Further south it may be from March to November. The eclectus parrot will have one clutche per breeding season. On average, chicks will fledge at 13 weeks, and become independent on average at 6 months. Males and females are sexually mature at approximately three years of age. (Cameron, 2012; Forbes, 1877; Forshaw, 2010; Heinsohn and Legge, 2003; Heinsohn, 2008b; Heinsohn, 2008a)
In this species, both male and females invest in the cycle of reproduction for their young. The females are more likely to incubate the egg and provide food for the hatchlings. Incubation lasts around 28 days. Males are known to bring food to the females during incubation. Not only one male will feed the female, this is because they mate with multiple males from their nesting group. Females invest more time than do males, but males are the more abundant in the group than are females. Females are said to be able to manipulate the sex of their hatchling. There will often be multiple breeding seasons in a row where a female will produce only one sex (male or female). (Cameron, 2012; Forshaw, 2010; Heinsohn, et al., 2007; Heinsohn, 2008b; Heinsohn, 2008a)
Eclectus parrots are known to survive and reproduce for up twenty-eight years in captivity, and anywhere up to fifty years in the wild. The shortest lived eclectus parrots in captivity survived approximately eight years. This may have been due to poor education about the diet of eclectus parrots. The expected lifespan in the wild is higher than that of parrots in captivity. The expected lifespan in captivity is between twenty-three and twenty-eight years. (Brouwer, et al., 2000)
Female eclectus parrots are more timid and often less likely to be seen. This may be due to there being less females than males in a nesting area. Males are seen more often outside of nesting areas than females. It is typical for females to actively look for a hollow to live in because they do not build their own. These birds devote a majority of their time collecting food, eating and resting. Eclectus parrots are very social birds; in order to breed and feed successfully they form flocks. While defending their territory they act aggressively and show an open beak as a way of frightening other members of the species. They will often “hide” their beak, in order to say they are backing down from the confrontation. During reproduction males and females will often flash their bright feathers in order to attract attention. The females will stay with the clutch until it hatches and will be with the chicks until after fledging, at three months, where the fledglings will be primarily taken care of by the males in the nesting group, and females will frequent the nest. Eclectus parrots are known to be loud, noisy birds. They often make calls during flight and while roosting. (Cameron, 2012; Forshaw, 2010; Heinsohn, 2008a; Heinsohn, 2008b; Sparks and Soper, 1990)
Males will leave the roosting area in search for food. Their average territory size is 3 square kilometers. (Cameron, 2012; Forshaw, 2010; Heinsohn, et al., 2007; Sparks and Soper, 1990)
Eclectus parrots often screech repeatedly when in the air, the sound being something like “krraach-krraak” (Forshaw, 2010). Either a cry or soft whistle-like sound can be heard during feeding. Both sexes have been observed making a “chee-ong” sound, often when they are paired. There are no observed defense sounds. Eclectus parrots use sensitivity to ultraviolet wavelengths to identify mates. They may use this in the acceptance and rejection of eggs as well. Chemical cues used by eclectus parrots include smell. While feeding they are more alert and can detect changes in the immediate area they occupy. While they flock, certain physical ques are used to create a uniform group. This is known as social facilitation (Forshaw, 2010). (Aidala, et al., 2012; Forshaw, 2010; Sparks and Soper, 1990)
Eclectus parrots are herbivores, consuming fruits and berries, nuts, seeds, leaf buds, blossoms, and nectar that they obtain from the canopies of the forest. Some fruits are cracked open and the pulp is eaten, others provide seeds to these parrots. They are known to feed alone, in pairs, or in large groups. Most foraging choices are made based on the abundance of resources. Eclectus parrots often choose their residence nests based on what types of resources are available and whether or not they have a high chance of a predator interference during feeding. Eclectus parrots have a hook shaped beak, the upper mandible extending further than the lower. Parrots use this small extension to crack open seeds or to dig pulp out of fruit. (Forshaw, 2010)
There are few known predators of the eclectus parrots. Falco pergrinus, commonly known as peregrine falcons, and Ninox rufa, rufous owls, are the two common known predators. One anti-predatory adaptation used by eclectus parrots is flocking. Flocks are especially helpful during feeding when the birds would be at their most vulnerable. When faced with an opponent they will flash their beak as a threat. (Cameron, 2012; Heinsohn, et al., 2003; Sparks and Soper, 1990)
These parrots impact their ecosystems by rarely and unintentionally dispersing seeds from their feedings. Species which eclectus parrots use as resources include trees where they nest. For example, fig trees, milkwood trees, and black bean trees are common nest sites for eclectus parrots. Parasitic species effecting eclectus parrots include a protozoan that causes cysts to form in the abdomen, known as Sarcocystis falcatula. (Muir and Raidal, 2012; Page, et al., 1992; Ramis, et al., 1991)
Eclectus parrots are often kept as pets. This trade brings money into areas where these birds are bred and sold. The United States and most other countries only import parrots bred in captivity. This is an attempt to prevent accidental or purposeful releasing of previously captive birds into the wild. (Cameron, 2012; Runde, et al., 2007)
Eclectus parrots are not considered pests in their native range. However, they are known to be agricultural pests in areas where introduced. The Hawaiian Islands where eclectus parrots have been introduced and reproduced successfully, include Hawaii, Kauai, and Oahu. They will feed in agricultural areas, destroying crops and decreasing revenue brought in by farming. Parrots, like many other bird species, carry a bacterium that causes Psittacosis in both humans and Aves. Owners of eclectus parrots may contract this disease, with symptoms resembling the flu. (Cameron, 2012; Runde, et al., 2007)
Eclectus parrots are of least concern according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The population of eclectus parrots is decreasing due to deforestation and loss of habitat. (Bird Life International, 2012)
Aretta Jennings (author), Radford University, Cari Mcgregor (editor), Radford University, Zeb Pike (editor), Radford University, Karen Powers (editor), Radford University, April Tingle (editor), Radford University, Jacob Vaught (editor), Radford University, Tanya Dewey (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.
Living in Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, New Guinea and associated islands.
uses sound to communicate
Referring to an animal that lives in trees; tree-climbing.
having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.
an animal which directly causes disease in humans. For example, diseases caused by infection of filarial nematodes (elephantiasis and river blindness).
uses smells or other chemicals to communicate
animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.
parental care is carried out by females
an animal that mainly eats leaves.
an animal that mainly eats fruit
an animal that mainly eats seeds
An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.
offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).
parental care is carried out by males
having the capacity to move from one place to another.
the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.
an animal that mainly eats nectar from flowers
reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.
the business of buying and selling animals for people to keep in their homes as pets.
Referring to a mating system in which a female mates with several males during one breeding season (compare polygynous).
the kind of polygamy in which a female pairs with several males, each of which also pairs with several different females.
rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.
remains in the same area
reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female
associates with others of its species; forms social groups.
uses touch to communicate
defends an area within the home range, occupied by a single animals or group of animals of the same species and held through overt defense, display, or advertisement
the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.
uses sight to communicate
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