Until the mid-1960s, male and female Eclectus parrots were thought to be two different species of Eclectus parrots. Now there are 9 Eclectus parrot subspecies available with different colorations.
Most of the male subspecies of Eclectus parrots can be extremely difficult to identify as they can look identical. There are some differences in some, such as the color of the eyes, the length of the body or tail, and the color of the beak.
Most female Eclectus subspecies can be identified more easily, however, there are some that are a bit more difficult.
Here is a list of 9 true Eclectus Parrot subspecies with pictures:
1. The Grand Eclectus
- Genus: Eclectus roratus roratus
- Average length: 34-35 cm
- Wingspan: 225-242 mm
The Grand Eclectus is considered the nominated breed. The male of this subspecies was first described in the 18th century and it took a hundred more years before the female was described.
The grand Eclectus parrot is unique in that it is the only member of the parrot family where the female is brighter and better looking than the male. Female’s bright red appearance with a contrasting purple nape and breast make an amazing sight when you see these birds for the first time.
The Grand Eclectus is found in Indonesia, on the central and southern islands of Maluku including Ambon, Buru, and Seram. They are also found on two smaller islands northeast of Ambon, Haruka, and Saparua in the lease group.
The Grand Eclectus found in Seram is smaller in size compared to the birds found in Ambon. The males of both places are similar and only vary in size, while the females differ in the coloration of the feathers on the chest and the coverts under the tail.
The females found in Seram have a mixture of red and lavender breast feathers (similar to the Vosmaeri subspecies) these females also have more yellow-colored under-tail feathers. The females found in Ambon are larger and have a distinct separation of the red and lavender feathers from the chest, forming a bib.
During the 1960s and 70s, Eclectus parrots were shipped in large numbers from Ambon to major bird exporters in Jakarta and then to Europe and the United States. The Vosmaeri Eclectus would be the most maintained subspecies in these countries, only limited numbers of Grand Eclectus Eclectus are found in the United States.
2. Vosmaeri Eclectus
- Genus: Eclectus roratus vosmaeri
- Average length: 37-38 cm
- Wingspan: 210 – 261 mm
The female Vosmaeri Eclectus would have to be one of the most astonishingly beautiful parrots. Its overall red appearance, paler than that of the other members of this species, the mixture of its chest from pale red to lavender and without a defined bib, the yellow coverts under the tail, the red tail feathers, and the yellow band bright at the tip, make this bird something unique.
The Vosmaeri Eclectus is found on the islands of Halmahera, Obi, Bacan, and Sula in northern Malukus.
This subspecies is the northernmost member of the genus Eclectus. Slightly larger than the Grand Eclectus, this subspecies was captured and exported in large numbers during the 1960s and 1970s and would be the most common of the nine subspecies kept in poultry farming.
On the Halmahera and Bacan islands, they are considered common. On the island of Obi they are rare, only recorded a few times near Kelo. Once common on Obi Island, it declined during the 1950s, where agricultural crops were protected from feeding parrots.
3. Cornelia Eclectus
- Genus: Eclectus roratus cornelia
- Average length: 37-40 cm
- Wingspan: 214-253 mm
Confined to the island of Sumba, Indonesia, Cornelia Eclectus is larger than the nominated breed.
The female of this subspecies, although similar to the female Riedeli Eclectus parrot being completely red in appearance, lacks the yellow under-tail coverts and the yellow buttercup-shaped tail band. The overall red appearance is brighter than that of the female Riedeli Eclectus.
The male Cornelia is similar to the Grand Eclectus but larger, the head and nape area appear lighter green, and the tail feathers are more blue tinged with green.
Sumba Island is located southeast of the Indonesian resort island of Bali, formerly the Lesser Sunda Islands, now called Nusa Tenggara, which means ‘Southeast Islands’.
Cornelia Eclectus subspecies is the second rarest of the Eclectus parrot subspecies. Only a limited number of Cornelia Eclectus are found in captivity and recent field reports state that their numbers in the wild are vulnerable.
Marsden & Jones 1989 reports that a survey conducted in Sumba estimated the Cornelia Eclectus population at around 34,900 birds.
The 1997 Marsden & Jones study of parrot nesting requirements for Sumba indicates that a total of 132 nests of Sumba’s parrots and endemic species of hornbill were located. Almost half were in trees, which contained other parrot or hornbill nests; one tree contained five active nests. Most of these trees were 38 m (125 ft) tall.
4. Tanimbar Eclectus
- Genus: Eclectus roratus riedeli
- Average length: 33-34 cm
- Wingspan: 214-220 mm
The Tanimbar Eclectus, as the name suggests, is found on the Tanimbar Islands in the Banda Sea, Indonesia. Also known as Riedel’s Eclectus or Riedeli’s Eclectus Parrot. This rare subspecies was named by Meyer in 1881 in honor of Dr. Riedel, a resident of Ambon.
This is the second smallest subspecies of Eclectus parrot and is quite unique. Like Cornelia’s Eclectus, (Eclectus roratus cornelia) the female of this subspecies is completely red. It differs from Cornelia by having yellow coverts under the tail and a much wider yellow buttercup tip the tail. The general red appearance of this bird is darker than Cornelia’s.
The male Riedeli Eclectus parrot is, of the nine subspecies of male Eclectus, the only one that is easily identifiable.
Most Eclectus parrot breeders have great difficulty separating males into subspecies. Because they are basically green birds with red under the wings and varying amounts of pale yellow at the tips of the tail, identification becomes difficult.
The male Riedeli Eclectus is the only subspecies that has a broad yellow band of buttercup on both sides of its tail. This band is somewhat larger than the yellow band found on the female Vosmaeri Eclectus parrot.
The Tanimbar Eclectus parrot was practically unknown to aviculture until 1995 when Walsrode Bird Park in Germany received some birds from Indonesia.
5. Solomon Island Eclectus
- Genus: Eclectus roratus solomonensis
- Average length: 33-35cm
- Wingspan: 218-258mm
Solomon Island Eclectus is the easternmost member of all Eclectus subspecies, found on the islands of Guadalcanal, New Georgia, Malaita, Santa Isabel, San Cristóbal, and Choiseul.
This group of islands is located east of Papua New Guinea in the Pacific Ocean. This subspecies is also found in Bougainville, New Britain, New Ireland, and the Admiralty Islands, and throughout the Bismarck Archipelago.
The Solomon Islands Eclectus parrots are smaller than their New Guinea neighbor Eclectus roratus polychloros (Red-sided Eclectus) is about 33 cm long.
The Solomon Islands Eclectus male is a short, stocky bird with a short four-inch tail; This tail has a tip about 3/8-inch pale yellow in color.
When the bird sits in its natural position, the tips of the wings almost touch the tip of the tail. The male’s green feathers have a yellow tinge through them. The bill is a paler orange with a yellow tip; The eyes are orange/red in color similar to those of the New Guinea Eclectus parrot.
The female Solomon Islands Eclectus is a deeper red than the Eclectus roratus polychloride, has creamy white eyes, and a more pronounced blue feathering in the orbital eye-ring.
The blue to the chest is brighter than the royal blue of Eclectus roratus polichloros and its red bib is narrower. There is a clear separation between the red bib and the bright blue breast.
6. Red-sided Eclectus Or New Guinea Eclectus
- Genus: Eclectus roratus polychloros
- Average length: 35-38 cm
- Wingspan: 235-264 mm
The Red-sided Eclectus or New Guinea Eclectus would have to be the most popular subspecies of Eclectus parrot kept in aviculture today.
The Red-sided Eclectus is the most popular because it is the most common, and of the nine subspecies, this subspecies has the widest range.
This subspecies, found throughout mainland New Guinea on both the West Papua and Papua New Guinea side of the border, is widely distributed on the Kai Islands in the Arafura Sea, Trobriand Island, which is found in the Solomon Sea and has been introduced into Goram Island and the Palau Islands in the Western Pacific Ocean.
The male New Guinea Eclectus Parrot (Red-sided Eclectus) is a forest green forest bird about thirteen to thirteen and a half inches long, its underside of the wings is bright red and sticking out from the sides of the chest, hence the name “Red-side”.
The eye is dark orange/red, the tail feathers are green and black, and with a deep blue along the center, the tail has a pale yellow tip about 3/8th of an inch.
Female New Guinea Eclectus parrots are also stocky in appearance, they are bright red in color and have a royal blue breast, with royal blue extending down to the nape, forming a narrow collar. Rear and upper wing coverts are deep maroon.
The lower coverts of the tail are red and the tail feathers are dark red with a brighter red tip. The eyes are creamy white in color and they also have blue feathers around the eyes.
The New Guinea Eclectus parrot was possibly the first subspecies to enter aviculture, it is widely kept around the world today and is raised in large numbers in both the United Kingdom and the United States of America.
The New Guinea Eclectus parrot is also very popular in Australia, although as in the UK and the US, many birds are crossbred with the Solomon Island Eclectus (Eclectus roratus solomonensis) and are therefore difficult to identify for the inexperienced breeder.
7. Aru Island Eclectus
- Genus: Eclectus roratus aruensis
- Average length: 35-39 cm
- Wingspan: 247-270 mm
Aru Island Eclectus is confined, as its name suggests, to the Aru Islands of Indonesia. This group of islands are the easternmost islands of Maluku and are located about 100 miles south of the mainland of West Papua in the Arafura Sea.
The Aru Island Eclectus parrots are larger than the nominated breed, both males and females are thin in appearance, they have longer tails than the red-sides Eclectus.
The male is a darker emerald green with a tinge of blue that extends throughout the head, from the nape to the mantle; the tail has a pale lemon tip. The eye is reddish/orange.
The female is similar to Red-sided Eclectus (Eclectus roratus polychloros) but larger overall and has a long tail; its head is brighter red than the Eclectus roratus polychloride (Red-sided Eclectus). The blue bib is somewhat smaller than the red-sided eclectus; the eye is creamy white.
With reasonable numbers of Aru Island Eclectus in captivity in Spain, Germany, and the United States and with captive breeding and species management programs, this subspecies appears safe.
8. Biak Island Eclectus
- Genus: Eclectus roratus biaki
- Average length: 35 cm
- Wingspan: 215-242 mm
Found on Biak Island, the Biak Island Eclectus parrot is smaller than the red-sided Eclectus. Both the male and female look brighter than the red-sided Eclectus: the male is deep forest green, its bill is a deep orange color, and it has a trace of yellow on the tip of its tail.
The Female has a bright red head and breast, the bib is deep blue with a trace of lavender, the bill is bright black, and the tail feathers are a darker red than the female Red-sided Eclectus.
This subspecies would have to be the most lovable member of this fascinating group of birds. When you see a couple of these birds sitting together, they are like jewels that sparkle in the morning sun, their feathers are so bright they seem to sparkle.
In 1991, a Christian missionary imported a total of fifteen Eclectus parrots to the United States of America, including thirteen Biak Island Eclectus. The rest were Eclectus roratus polychloros (Red-sided Eclectus); These birds legally imported into the USA were then sold, presumably to raise funds for the Christian mission in Biak.
According to Laurella Desborough, the Biaki Island Eclectus parrot appears to be more closely related to the red-sided Eclectus (Eclectus roratus polychloros), rather than the Solomon Island Eclectus (Eclectus roratus solomonensis), based on the colors of the male and the behavior of both males and females.
The ritual behaviors of both subspecies are similar, but the basic behaviors of the Biaki Island Eclectus subspecies are more similar to the Red-sided Eclectus than to the Solomon Island Eclectus.
9. The Australian Eclectus
- Genus: Eclectus roratus macgillivrayi
- Average length: 40-45 cm
- Wingspan: 277-298 mm
This is the largest subspecies of Eclectus parrots and is confined to the extreme northeast of the Cape York Peninsula, North Queensland, Australia. The Australian Eclectus parrot is the southernmost member of the Eclectus group.
The Australian Eclectus parrot is much larger than its New Guinea neighbor Red-sided Eclectus (Eclectus roratus polychloros.)
Mainly due to its longer tail, its total length is just over 43 cm, including an 18 cm tail.
The broadness of the head of both the male and the female is characteristic of this beautiful subspecies.
The Australian male Eclectus is bright forest green with a tinge of yellow through the feathers, its bill is deep coral orange with a brighter yellow tip.
The eyes are dark red/orange; the tail is deep dark green on the outer edge and black on the inner edge with a royal blue stripe along both sides of the feather shaft.
The tail feathers are tipped about 1/2 inch pale yellow in the center, changing to a bright yellow at the edges.
The Australian female Eclectus is a strikingly beautiful bird, somewhat majestic in appearance. If you keep the Red-sided Eclectus and you have a good-looking female, imagine that the female is half as large again and you will have a somewhat better idea of the size and beauty of these birds.
In general, the Australian female Eclectus is a brighter red than Eclectus roratus polychloros with a longer tail. The royal blue chest has a paler sky blue edging. This edging is also present on the shoulder and edge of the wing and is more pronounced than in the Red-sided Eclectus.
The eyes are dark with an orange ring; the blue feathers of the orbital eye ring are similar to those of Eclectus roratus polychloros but not as pronounced as Eclectus roratus solomonensis.
The 18 cm long tail is deep burgundy red at the outer edge starting at the shaft and tapering to pale red at the tip.
The inner edge starts out as a charcoal gray near the shaft changing to a lighter burgundy red and then a pale red at the tip.
Some older female feathers tend to be pink in the center of the tail tip.
The total area in which Australian Eclectus parrots are found is approximately the same size as Sumba Island, where Cornelia’s Eclectus are found.
The Australian Eclectus parrot is only found on the eastern side of the Cape York Peninsula, bounded by the Rocky River to the south and the Pascoe River to the north. Its range extends west to the Peach River and the area east of the town of Coen known as Blue Mountain.