by Jean G.
Pilot on a stand in the kitchen
I have two male Eclectus Parrots, Donald and Pilot. I love my guys, but I need to let people know out there that generalizations about this species always have exceptions.
Some articles and websites talk about Eclectus Parrots being very quiet. Pilot is exactly that, a very well mannered and quiet bird. I could live in an apartment with Pilot no problem.
My Donald is opposite in that regard. He is louder than just about any other parrot I've met. Most of the time he screams because I am leaving or I have gone to another part of the house where he can't see me. So actually he IS quiet, but only if I am in the room and he knows I'm not going anywhere.
There is no way I could ever live with a roommate nor in an apartment or condo situation again, unless all my neighbors were deaf! I adopted him at age 3 1/2, and he had been though three homes by then. He is now 7 1/2. I hope to have him the rest of his life.
He is also a very hormonal bird and can be aggressive to my other birds. He was re-homed to me because he began to attack his mate and she became terrified of him.
He regurgitates daily on his toys, which is messy to clean up. He mouths and is fixated on my hands and thumbs, so much so I have to remove him the second he starts messing with my hands. He has bit me numerous times, including through my upper lip and nose..these days I no longer put my face near his face.
He is fixated on pairs of shoes that are left on the floor and will attempt to mate with them. He will attempt to mate with me as well, usually my hands or arms, so for me I'd rather have him focus that on an inanimate object like a shoe sitting on the floor!
Once I gave him part of a TV dinner I was eating, and he toe-tapped for 24 hours. This is a serious condition that occurs in Eclectus, frequently caused by artificial ingredients or over supplementation of vitamins. I was lucky it stopped so quickly.
One of the toes on his foot involuntarily clenched and unclenched, making a tapping noise on the perch. He would pick up his foot and look at it, trying to figure out why this was happening. Many birds with this condition begin to chew their toes off to stop the involuntary movement, as it keep them from relaxing or sleeping.
In other words, Eclectus are very sensitive to different foods, and you have to make sure they get the best diet possible to prevent this! Both of my Eclectus guys pluck to some extent. Donald only slightly on his nape and his chest, and then there is Pilot.
Pilot I adopted a year ago at age 11. He is almost completely bald on his body, and she shreds his wing and tail feathers when he gets bored. He does not know how to play with parrot toys. He is an absolute love though, a sensitive bird but very bonded to me. He is not hormonal like Donald, though Donald is also bonded to me and feels he is my chaperon.
Some of Pilot's feather plucking might have been prevented with regular bathing in water...when I brought him home, he literally stank and had a bacterial infection from sharing his food and water bowls with the family dog. Birds should not be dirty and greasy!
Both Pilot and Donald love to go into the shower several times a week with me in the morning, then they air dry in my 68 degree house over the course of the afternoon.
Both of my birds are flighted, and I take Donald several times a month to a large hangar with a group of other parrot owners who fly their birds. He enjoys it immensely and it helps to dispell some of his pent-up energy.
Living with a flighted bird can take more effort, but it is healthier for the birds in the long run, as long as they get several hours a day to come out and fly.
I have found Donald a very precise and amazing flier in the house...he can change course and land in safe places easily by now. It takes birds several months or longer to get to that stage though, especially if they have always been clipped.
I find both my Eclectus very particular about going to the bathroom only where they think it's appropriate. They will not poop on me, which is nice...just in their cages or on a play gym or stand. They are smart birds, though it's hard to read their moods and some people incorrectly think they are less intelligent, because they are a bit less expressive.
They need full spectrum light to both see well and metabolize calcium from their food properly. Like African Greys, they can become calcium deficient and some babies are born with rickets and deformed skeletons if their parents aren't fed optimum diets.
Summary: Eclectus are advanced parrots. They are usually not cuddly per se' but love to be 'on you' or near you 'supervising'. Include them in your mealtimes!
They are more sensitive than some other species, needing owners who both include them in their daily activities and a relatively calm household, if they interact with children they need to be mature and patient children. Their bite can be hard. They absolutely need a good diet with daily fresh vitamin A rich vegetables and other quality foods such as sprouts and hard boiled eggs with shells.
Be careful to make sure any pellets you give them are not high in artificial ingredients or colors. They are prone to screaming, biting, toe-tapping, plucking and self-mutilation if neglected or abused. You need to consider that if your bird becomes hormonal or starts plucking, would you be able to love him just as much. Would I ever re-home my guys...never!