The Eclectus parrot (pronounced e-klek-tus) is one of nature's wonders in colour creations. So much that visitors to Parrot Haven Aviary are overwhelmed by the beauty of the Eclectus hens and mesmerised by the startling difference (sexual dimorphism) between their vivid blue, red and maroon hair like feathers compared to the brilliant green of the cock bird.
Native Eclectus to Australia
Native to Australia is the Macgillivray Eclectus, Eclectus roratus macgillivrayi they are the largest of all the Eclectus sub-species. For all intention purposes they look similar to the Red-sided Eclectus but only bigger. In fact they are nearly twice the size of the Red-sided Eclectus.
William McLennan discovered the Macgillivray in the rain forests of Cape York Peninsula, which is the very tip of Australia in the state of Queensland, in 1913.
In Australia the Macgillivray is classed as an exotic parrot, thus requiring each one to be registered with the National Exotic Bird Register Scheme, each owner is also required to hold a special license to keep them in captivity. According to records dated December 1999 there were only 36 Macgillivrays Eclectus registered to 12 Australian owners. This shows the scarcity of such a magnificent Eclectus kept in aviaries.
Eclectus Species Mostly kept in Australia Aviaries
The most widely kept Eclectus within Australian would be the Red-sided Eclectus, Eclectus roratus polychloros, their place of origin being the island of New Guinea to the north of Australia. I do not know when the first E.r.Polychloros was imported from their homeland into Australia. But until recent years the asking price for the Eclectus was out of reach for the average aviarien and could only be met by those who has the money to spend
Polychloros can now be purchased from around six hundred Australian dollars each making it affordable and a parrot that is regularly sought after and kept in aviaries around Australia.
Eclectus in Australian aviaries can be found housed in suspended or conventional aviaries, depending on the space available, likes and monetary situation of the individual owner. To my knowledge no one in Australia houses Eclectus in the smaller stackable cages as practiced in other parts of the world.
The suspended aviaries are well suited for undulating ground where extensive earth works would need to be preformed if a conventional aviary was to be erected. Many choose to use the suspended aviaries to keep the Eclectus away from any decaying fruit, food scraps or faeces that could play a part in health problems. Although not a ground dwelling parrot the Eclectus can and do on occasions go to ground for tit bit of food that have been dropped by them from their feeding bowls. Problem in conventional aviaries can arise if the keeper is unable to keep a tidy and hygienic set of flights.
Suspended cages are not as popular for the housing of Eclectus parrots in Australian aviaries, although this practice is slowly changing. The size of the average suspended cage would not be less than 4 meters in length 1.3 meters wide and around 1.8 meters high. We at Parrot Haven Aviary are considering housing some of our Eclectus in suspended cages mainly for the ease of cleaning and the ability to positioning the nest boxes in the safety walk way. This is a practice that we use with our Asiatic parrots and find it very successful and less stressful on the parrots.
The general practice of housing Eclectus in aviaries is very strong in Australia. Each breeding pair of Eclectus is housed in individual aviaries that I call flights. Aviaries can very from 3 to 7 meters (9'-21') in length, 2.1 to 3 meters (6'-10') in height and 1.2 to 1.8 meters (4'-6') in width.
I have seen various types of floors used in these flight from washed river sand, small pebbles, concrete and earth. Each of these floor fills has their own drawbacks. The washed river sand needs to be raked and sifted for seed husks and fresh food scraps on regular bases, and when dry can become dusty. Pebbles are harder to maintain for food and seed husks fall between them making cleaning hard. Concrete although easier to keep clean can remain wet and damp. Earthen floors can suffer from all of the other fill problems and is not recommended.
Housing and Breeding of the Eclectus Parrots, at Parrot Haven Aviary.
Parrot Haven Aviary is located at Nemingha near Tamworth in the state of New South Wales, in Australia.
Parrot Haven Aviary is a commercial aviary run by my wife Lyn and I (Garry Lee.) we specialise in breeding and hand rearing many species of parrots for the companion market in Australia. One of our most sought after species is the spectacular Eclectus. The species that we breed are Eclectus roratus polychloros. These Eclectus are indigenous to the island of New Guinea to the north of Australia.
The complex for housing our Eclectus has a central safety walkway, which separates the opposing Eclectus flights. Each flight measures 4 meters long 1.3 meters wide and 2.1 meters high at the front sloping down to the back wall, which is 2 meters high, and housed one pair of Eclectus.
Each breeding pair of Eclectus is separated from the other by using Trimdeck metal dividing walls. The walls extend from the back wall to the walkway and are the full height of each flight. Apart from giving total privacy from the breeding pair next door, the metal dividing walls are also used to secure the metal V shaped brackets that we use to support each perch, and the nest boxes or breeding logs.
Entrance to each flight is through a door made from 25mm square tube covered in bird wire, and held closed using a barrel bolt. A lift up metal flap is used to gain access to the feeding shelf situated at waist height in the front of each flight, where we place stainless steel rectangular bowls containing their fresh fruit and vegetables.
We decided to use washed river sand for the floor coverings of our flights, but I have not been completely happy with it. One of the things that have turned me off sand is that it retains moisture for a reasonable length of time after a rainy period. When we decided to use sand I thought that the moisture would dissipate quickly leaving the sand reasonably dry, unfortunately the earth below the sand does not allow this to happen. This is one reason that we are considering suspended aviaries for the Eclectus.
My wife Lyn prepares fresh fruits and vegetables each day for all our parrots including the Eclectus. Fruit is selected by what is available in Australia in relation to the season that we are in.
A number of fruit and produce shops in our local city Tamworth, keep fruits and vegetables for us that have a few marks on them, and for appearance sake can not be sold to the general public. Apart from the marks on the fruit it is as fresh as the produce on the shop shelves being sold for human consumption. What a saving this is for us, you can imagine the amount of fruit that we go through in a week with a commercial breeding aviary.
Vegetables is another ingredient that is added to their food bowl each day, apart from the fresh vegetables that Lyn prepares, she also cooks the prepared frozen mixed vegetable and corn to add into the fresh fruits. On top of the soft foods Lyn adds a vitamin supplement called Soluvet Breeding Pack this supplies all 13 essential vitamins.
Sprouted seeds are prepared and given most days. A friend put us onto an easy way to sprout the seeds, I was a bit sceptical at first but after using it we are hooked and would not sprout seed in any other way. This is how we do it. After completing all the general preparation that is required to insure a safe supply of seed to sprout we place the required amount of seed into plastic shopping bags, (the ones that your groceries are put into at the supermarkets.) In the bottom of the plastic bag we insert many holes using an eating fork, this allows the remaining water to drain away and prevent the seed from becoming sour and unusable.
The plastic bags of seed are hung under our pergola roof and heated using the radiated heat from the colour bond roofing iron. Within 24 hours there is sprouts emerging from the seed and ready to rinse, disinfect and add to the food bowls.
Food dishes are removed each morning about 10 am, washed disinfected for hygiene and ready to refill at around 4 PM to take out into the aviaries for the daily feeding.
Worming is done with a crop needle every 6 months using 1 part Ivomec Oral Sheep drench, 1 part Benzlmin Concentrated, and 8 parts water at a rate of 0.5 ml per 100 gms of bird weight. The result is excellent and removes worms from the parrots and also prevents re-infestation if dosed at the recommended time.
Please note this is what we at Parrot Haven Aviary use, and we accept no responsibility if others use it.
Maintaining vitamin A is important to the Eclectus parrot as well, other vitamins are also needed to be kept to the required optimum levels. To do this we inject each parrot every three months into the breast mussel with ADEC (vitamins ADEC) produced by Vetafarm.
Parrot Haven Aviary is a commercial breeding aviary, and the health of our parrots are the utmost importance to us for the production of good quality and fertile eggs there for we must provide vitamins and supplements in a manner that is time and cost effective.
We find that putting worming medication, vitamin supplements and other health products where a parrot can self-administer it is not the most effective way in our circumstance.
The most effective way for us is to crop drench for worming, and also to administer their calcium supplement (Calcivet.) Vitamin levels are topped up with ADEC by direct injection it into the chest mussel.
Another advantage for us by administering drench and vitamins in this way is that we can visually inspect the physical health and condition of the parrot at the same time.
When pairing up our Eclectus I like to start with young at around six to twelve moths of age, I select the ones that seem to be interested in each other. Each new pair of Eclectus are then housed in one flight When our Eclectus reach the age of two years they are provided with a nest box that is left with them all year round. The nest boxes are positioned towards the rear of our flights providing privacy and seclusion from the other Eclectus pairs that are in flights adjacent to them on the other side of the walkway.
We at Parrot Haven Aviary remove the young Eclectus from the nest boxes at ten days of age for hand rearing. At this age their eyes have not yet opened and the young chicks do not have a chance to imprint on the parents or their siblings, making it easier to spoon feed and to introduce them into the human world that they are to live in.
The nest boxes are emptied disinfected and refilled with hard wood shavings and peat moss ready for the hen to occupy when she is ready to go back down again. We find that most of our hens usually have between four to six week's rest before starting to become restless and return to the nest boxes to start preparing for the next clutch.
Feeding Eclectus in the correct manner is so often neglected, not only by the single Eclectus owner but also by the larger breeders. It continues to amaze me although sadly, how many people feed seed only to their Eclectus.
Many of these people know no better, and look for the cheapest and most convenient way to feed. Very little research into the requirements of maintaining a healthy Eclectus is done by prospective purchasers before buying their Eclectus. Secondly the blame can be also traced back to the breeders and pet stores who neglect to tell or reinforce the importance of a correct diet for Eclectus parrots.
For those owners, or potential owners, interested in the Eclectus parrot, we sell a great book called… "A guide to Eclectus Parrots, Their Management, Care and Breeding." The information contained within these pages give both the novice and the serious breeder necessary and informative information on the health problems and management of their Eclectus parrot. The book can be ordered from our web site http://www.parrot-haven-aviary.com.au
We feed our Eclectus seeds, fruit, vegetables, grasses, sprouted seeds and branches with leaves attached, from Australian native trees.
Parrot Haven Aviary's seed mixture consists of two parts gray striped sunflower, one part safflower, one part hulled oats and one part budgie mixed seed. In summer we reduce the gray striped sunflower to one part.
Are also given to each Eclectus, most readily accept it while others just tip it out. The advantage that we find in using pellets is the complete supplement intake, and an added advantage is the reduction of seed husks in the bottom of the aviary. All of our hand reared companion parrots are exclusively fed on pellets as well as fruit and vegetables.
Is devoured by our Eclectus as soon as the afternoons fresh produce in feed out to them. The fruits consist of apples, pears, peaches, oranges, plumbs and many others that are seasonal. The fruits are cut up into smaller pieces and mixed in with their vegetables, we find that by doing this they have a larger selection to ravage through.
Are an important part of their diet, especially those containing vitamin "A", for Eclectus parrots require a high intake. Lyn my wife, and my best mate for thirty-two years, includes a large selection of fresh vegetables in to their daily fresh food supply. We have found that by adding the frozen mixed vegetables after cooking them for five minutes increases the variety that can be feed all year round.
Sprouted seeds give all parrots the benefit of a live food intake that is so rich in goodness. The preparation for sprouting seeds is very important; all seeds need to be washed thoroughly until any trace of colour in the water is removed. Next we soak our seeds (Gray Striped Sunflower and Safflower) in a large stainless steel pot overnight, also to the water we add a product called Aviclens at a rate of 5ml to 10L of water. Aviclens slows the fermentation process during seed soaking, hence reducing the bacterial contamination of seed making it safer to feed to your parrots.
The seeds are rinsed again after the soaking process and placed into plastic shopping bags. To assist in the sprouting procedure we hang the plastic bags containing the seed under the roof of our verandah. Many holes are put into the bottom of the plastic bags by using a eating fork from the kitchen drawer, this allow any water remaining in the seed to drain out of the plastic bag, and prevents the seed from becoming unusable by spoiling.
We have found at Parrot Haven Aviary that the radiation of heat from the tin roof onto the plastic bags provides us with a little hot house to sprout our seeds in. This procedure works just as well in winter as in summer.
After the seeds sprout to about one quarter of an inch long, this takes about a day at our place in summer, and possible two days in winter. The bags of sprouted seeds are removed, washed, soaked again in Aviclens for about ten minutes, just to make certain that they are free of any fungi that may have invaded the seed while sprouting. After rinsing the sprouted seed they are allowed to drain in a colander until ready to feed out with the fresh produce that afternoon.
Eclectus parrots are the most sought after of all the companion parrots that we breed at Parrot Haven Aviary.
Unfortunately there is a lot of re-educating that must be accomplished, with breeders of parent reared Eclectus, some authors of Eclectus books, and the general public, regarding the true nature of companion female Eclectus. We as breeders of companion Eclectus find that the reputation about the bad nature of the female Eclectus, and her lack of worth as a companion parrot is unjust and mostly unfounded.
Any species of parrot including the Eclectus can turn nasty if the hand reared decides to cut corners in their preparation, nurturing, and correct weaning of the young.
People must start to look and treat parrots as an intelligent individual with the mind of a five-year-old child.
All parrots that are destined to become companions must be removed from their parents before their eyes are open. Once a chick starts to bond to its parents and siblings the process of feeding and fending for its self in the wild starts to develop.
We breed and sell many female Eclectus companion parrots within Australia and find the percentage of female Eclectus that show a trace of aggression would be on par with the cock Eclectus, very small.
Our Eclectus companion babies are either removed from the nest by ten days of age or the eggs are incubated in our incubator room. Each chick is then placed into its own container preventing bonding with any other Eclectus chick, there for bonding with humans is a natural occurrence.
With the affection, handling and education that is continually bestowed upon all of our Eclectus chicks, we find that the aggression towards humans that can be seen in parent reared female Eclectus is minimal.
Companion parrots make great friends.
Reprinted with permission
>Visit Garry Lee's Parrot Haven Aviary!