THE ECLECIUS: Winged Flowers

Jose MI. Perdomo

Abstract


I n the vast galleries of the avian kingdom, we encounter the most spectacular display of color in plumage with values beyond the unusual, and hues hard to find elsewhere, even in the most complete encyclopedia. This pageantry of chromatic variations is perhaps only matched in nature by the diversity of colors found in two other wonders living on our planet: butterflies and flowers.

Birds, due to their air-handling abilities and, in many cases masterful vocalizations, make the sky their domain, and bring to our eyes and senses the full spectrum of their exuberance, incomparable grace, and harmonious voices. Perhaps because of our humanly constant pursuit of beauty and the unusual, aviculture reflects this inspirational diversity in a most pronounced fashion.

Many birds raised in captivity exhibit astonishing color plumage, from the exquisite display of the incredible Gouldian Finch to the colorful Scarletchested Grass Parakeets and lories. From the balls of fire we call Sun Conures, to the breathtaking toucans. From the remarkable cockatoos to the magnificent Scarlet and Hyacinth Macaws. Within this broad range of visual enchantment and a multitude of characteristics, resides the Eclectus, with its striking sexual dimorphism, one of the most pronounced found in the avian kingdom, and even perhaps in all vertebrates. The Eclectus is a medium size parrot that does not have to move to electrify your visual nerve.

Today, beginning with this monograph, starts a series of articles on the Eclectus, Eclectus roratus, a unique kind of parrot native to the South Pacific and Indonesia, delimited by the Tropic of Capricorn and the Tropic of Cancer. The Eclectus parrots have captivated many of us with their stunning appearance, strong personality and with their mysterious attitude reminiscent of a philosopher in profound meditation. We will try to expose here some of the mysteries and charms of these gems of the sky or "winged flowers." We hope this will help to increase the understanding of these unique and beautiful psittacines.

The Eclectus Taxonomy.

Unlike many other parrots, all the Eclectus belong to one genus, Eclectus, and one species, defined as roratus. The Eclectus is then monotypic, as all their members belong to one species. Within this species, the Eclectus are grouped as forming a conglomerate of seven or nine subspecies, depending upon the textbook used.

Stepping aside from the taxonomical arguments, and with the purpose of being inclusive of all types or subspecies described to date, we will list them all, indicating which subspecies are under scrutiny by taxonomists and which ones have been successfully raised by aviculturists in the U.S.A.

Basics on the Eclectus

Although all generalizations usually fail to stand scrutiny, we can safely say that the Eclectus attitude is relaxed, their movements carefully calculated, and, in many ways, it seems like they are fully aware of their extraordinary beauty and expect us to acknowledge and even admire it.

A pair of Eciectus will supply all the colors one can expect to handle in our daily life. The male with its emerald green plumage, some blue feathers in the wings and the yellow-orange upper mandible; the females with their red heads, black beaks, maroon bodies, breast feathers mostly cobalt blue or purple, and yellow tail in some cases, summarize with simplicity the full chromatic spectrum of these wonders of the South Pacific.

Although, the pronounced sexual dimorphism of the Eclectus allows immediate recognition of the sexes, differentiating subspecies within the males is extremely difficult. The variations are slight and not easy to be consistently detected by most fansexcept perhaps by the very experienced breeders. In this article, we will focus on the female characteristics, mentioning details on males when considered significant.

In contrast to the males, the females are considerably easier to be sorted out into their corresponding subspecies. However, in some cases, the difference is simply size, a parameter which could introduce errors in our evaluations.

 


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References


The Eclectus, A Complete Guide. By Roger Sweeney.

A Guide to Eclectus Parrots-Their Management, Care and Breeding. Published by The Australian Birdkeeper.

A Complete Guide to Eclectus Parrots. By K.Wayne Arthur, Fred Bauer and Laurella Desborough.

The Complete Lexicon of Parrots. Publishers Verlag.URL=http://arndtverlag.com/ projekt/parse. cgi? Desc=E 108.htm&Pic=l 08_1.JPG

Parrots: Their Care and Breeding. By Rosemary Low.

The Online Book of Parrots. URL = http://www.ub tuclausthal.de/PAhtml/psittaculidae/ecl ectus.html


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