Native to rainforests of the Solomon Islands, the Moluccas, New Guinea and northeastern Australia, the Eclectus parrot (Eclectus roratus) is remarkable for the striking difference in plumage color between males and females. Males are emerald green, while females are deep crimson and blue.
Keep reading to find out about the life expectancy of these popular and colorful birds, as we answer the question how long do Eclectus parrots live for?
Sources show a large variation in data about the average lifespan of Eclectus parrots, both in the wild and in captivity. Eclectus parrots kept as pets have a maximum life expectancy of up to 30 years, while in the wild, they are thought to live for up to 50 or more years.
The oldest documented captive-kept Eclectus parrot reached the age of 28.5 years at San Diego Zoo, although it is believed that the maximum life expectancy for these stunning birds kept as pets may in fact be a few years greater, up to around 30 years.
Contrary to the typical situation of captive birds living longer than their wild counterparts, it seems that Eclectus parrots living in their natural habitat fare better than those kept as pets. Although reliable evidence is somewhat lacking, it is strongly believed that free-ranging Eclectus parrots may reach 40 or even 50 years of age.
If you’re interested in finding out why this may be the case, please keep reading as we look into factors that may affect the lifespan of Eclectus parrots, and explore whether males and females, although very different in appearance, share the same average life expectancy.
Eclectus Parrots can live up to fifty years in the wild
In the wild, the typical lifespan of an Eclectus parrot is significantly shorter than that of free-ranging birds of the same species. Although it is believed that captive Eclectus parrots can live for a maximum of around 30 years, the oldest recorded individual bird reached 28.5 years.
Unusually for parrots, Eclectus parrots enjoy a longer lifespan in the wild than in captivity. Individuals living in the wild are believed to live for an average of 40 to 50 years, although some experts estimate their maximum life expectancy as 70 years or more.
No distinct information is available about the lifespans of the nine different subspecies of Eclectus parrots, including the Sumba Eclectus parrot (Eclectus roratus cornelia), Moluccan Eclectus parrot (Eclectus roratus roratus/vosmaeri) and Tanimbar Eclectus parrot (Eclectus roratus riedeli).
A pair of Solomon Island Eclectus Parrots (Eclectus roratus solomonensis)
One theory that explains the longevity of Eclectus parrots in the wild is linked to both their diet and unique physical anatomy.
Eclectus parrots have a considerably longer digestive tract than many other parrot species, which allows them to digest foods thoroughly, effectively absorbing higher concentrations of fiber and more nutrients than many other birds.
In the wild, Eclectus parrots protect themselves by living and foraging in small flocks, and roosting overnight in larger groups. This group mentality keeps them safe from external threats as they are alerted to the presence of predators by birds at the edge of the roost.
Unlike most other parrots, Eclectus parrots actually are thought to live longer in the wild
Captive Eclectus parrots are notorious for suffering from stress, particularly when exposed to new surroundings, situations, and even new toys. Noise from children, vehicles, and animals are also highly likely to induce intense stress, reactions to which include feather plucking, self mutilation and other destructive behaviors.
In the wild, female Eclectus parrots are particularly feisty and territorial, and are well known for defending their nest sites from other females, remaining in their nest cavity for more than 11 months of the year and aggressively seeing off any intruders, being prepared to even fight to the death in defense of their patch.
Research shows a tendency by some wild female Eclectus parrots to kill male chicks shortly after hatching, although there is no evidence of this happening in captive birds.
A female Eclectus parrot on the ground
In the wild, a female Eclectus parrot lays two eggs in a nest hollow, which are then incubated for between 28 and 30 days. In captivity, incubation ranges from 26 to 30 days. On hatching, it is impossible to distinguish between genders, but by around a month, the distinctive male (green) and female (scarlet) pin feathering begins to develop.
Chicks fledge between 11 and 12 weeks. Sexual maturity is reached from between 18 months and 3 years, with successful breeding for the first time usually between 4 and 6 years.
The chief predators of Eclectus parrots include possums, birds of prey (particularly rufous owls, hawks, and peregrine falcons), and wild dogs.
Humans also pose a threat to the survival of the species in the wild, with trapping and hunting for the pet trade having a significant impact on population numbers
Eclectus Parrot perched on a branch
Sources claim that the oldest captive Eclectus parrot lived to 28.5 years at San Diego Zoo. Anecdotal accounts exist of birds that exceed this age, and it is believed that wild Eclectus parrots have even longer lives, although there are no reliable records of individual birds to support this.
Eclectus parrots need to eat up to around 20 percent of their body weight each day to remain healthy and when kept as pets, it is recommended to feed them two or three times a day. Parrots can go without food for around 48 hours, although this can potentially make them seriously ill.
In the wild, Eclectus parrots spend a large part of their day foraging for food, beginning shortly after the sun rises, feeding on fresh, juicy fruits and blossom. They can only cope for short periods without food and will extend their range to seek out their preferred foods if nearby food sources are scarce.
Close up of a female Eclectus parrot on a tree branch
Eclectus parrots are rated as a species of least concern by the IUCN Red List, although numbers are threatened in certain regions due to illegal trapping for the exotic pet trade.
Beyond the juvenile stage, it is impossible to accurately tell the age of an Eclectus parrot purely on sight. Juveniles have a lighter gray beak, which becomes black once they have reached adulthood.
There is no data or observations on whether male or female Eclectus parrots live longer. Both males and females have a lifespan of up to 30 years in captivity and beyond this in the wild.
On average, adult Eclectus parrots require between 10 and 12 hours of sleep each night. For younger parrot chicks and more senior birds, the length of rest time needed each day extends to up to 14 hours, including regular short naps during the daytime..
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