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The Eclectus

Eclectus parrots are one of the large parrot species that make great pets. With their vibrant green or red feathers, calm and friendly temperament, and intelligence and ability to mimic, these birds are very popular pets. Like most parrots, Eclectus parrots live a long time, around 30 to 50 years, and require plenty of love and attention. Besides their distinctive honk when stress, ekkies tend to be quiet and work well in calm quiet environments.

Prone to stress and with a unique digestive system, Eclectus parrots can be quite a handful, but they’re totally worth it! Birds like these can easily become friends for life!

Should I be concerned about what my Eclectus eats?

Eclectus parrots, of all types, have a unique digestive system compared to other large parrots, like Macaws or Cockatoos. Their unusually long intestines mean that it’s much easier for ekkies to absorb nutrients from their food. While this means that they do well on fruit and vegetable diets, it means that you need to be cautious about overfeeding or overdosing on vitamins.

Some foods that are high in protein are recommended when your ekkie is molting, breeding, or for chicks, but most of the time vegetable protein is perfect for your Eclectus parrot. Generally, Eclectus parrots do better with softer foods, which means seeds and pellets can be hard for them. This is not to say that you can’t use seed or pellets in your Eclectus parrots’ diet – that just shouldn’t be the basis of their diet.

Ekkies need a high fruit and veg, low-fat diet, but birds love variety. Experts suggest Eclectus parrots eat sprouted seeds, or soaked seeds, to make it easier on their stomach. The thing to remember about pellets is that they are high in man-made nutrients and vitamins; because ekkies are built to absorb nutrients easier, it’s also easier for them to overdose on vitamins when concentrated in pellets. Overall, 60% – 80% of your Eclectus parrot’s diet should be fruits and vegetables, to keep them healthy and avoid behavioral problems like toe-tapping and feather plucking.

What exactly does my Eclectus naturally eat?

In the wild, Eclectus parrots live in tree canopies and scavenge for food in the treetops. This results in a diet that is mostly tree fruits, like figs. Ekkies don’t tend to look for food on the ground unless pressed to, and therefore don’t naturally eat many seeds, unlike Macaws and Cockatoos which scavenge on the forest floor. As pets, Eclectus parrots enjoy fruits and vegetables, even if they aren’t necessarily the same varieties they would find naturally.

What about an All-Pellet Diet?

Your Eclectus CAN’T handle an all-seed diet – even birds who naturally eat seed can’t do all-seed diets! All parrots need variety in their diets to get the correct nutrients. Because of the Eclectus’ digestion, it is recommended that seed is given to them sparingly, and is either sprouted or soaked. Both sprouted and soaked seeds are easier on an ekkie stomach made for digesting soft foods. Seed can also use as a treat or grazing food since it can be left out longer than fruit.

Fat is a big reason why seeds are not ideal for Eclectus. Most seed mixes available out there contain nuts. Nuts can be fatty, and especially for a fat sensitive bird like the Eclectus, this can cause health problems. If your seed mix has nuts in it, your Eclectus is more likely to go over the 6% fat intake they should be getting. Please take a look at your pet foods guaranteed analysis on the back of their package.

Seed mixes in general should be used with caution. Many mainstream mixes that you can pick up at pet stores are likely to contain genetically modified (GMO) seeds. The troubling thing about most GMO seeds is that they are grown for the purpose of being used in cooking oils. You are really asking for trouble in terms of short-term and long-term health issues for your Eclectus when you go with a seed mix full of high-fat nuts and GMO ingredients.

The problem with an all-pellet diet

You may have been given the advice to load up on pellets now that you’ll be bringing a parrot into your home. While perhaps more convenient for the owner, all-pellet diets are terrible for your Eclectus. Along with disadvantages all parrots experience, like lack of variety, lack of ability to forage, and just overall being boring, all-pellet diets can severely harm your ekkie’s digestion.

Because Eclectus parrots are more able to absorb nutrients, they are more prone to Vitamin D and iron overdoses common with all-pellet diets. Pellets are man-made concentrated nutrients that your ekkie is just absorbing and holding because they don’t need that much! Be especially cautious of pellets that are dyed, as Eclectus parrots are known to react poorly to dyed pellets, particularly red. Pellets are an appropriate treatment when given sparingly but never use as the basis for an Eclectus diet.

What should I feed my Eclectus?

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Fresh fruits and vegetables as a basis for your Eclectus’ diet is best. Approximately 40%-60% of an Eclectus parrot’s diet should be fruits and vegetables. Later in the handbook, there will be a list of fruits and vegetables for ekkies, but they generally like red, orange, and yellow fruits, and dark green, leafy vegetables. As a general rule of thumb, feed your parrot only food that you would feasibly eat. This means that all of the fruits and vegetables for your Eclectus should be fresh, ripe, organic, and washed before they eat.

Pulses, legumes, and sprouted seeds can supplement your ekkie’s normal diet and provide them with some variety. Eclectus parrots also like to graze between meals, so it’s important to provide light snacks. Because Eclectus parrots are intelligent and playful, a fun way to do this would be to give them a toy with a treat inside – pellets and seeds are good treats because they can be out in the cage for longer and eaten sparingly.

Always remember to consult your avian veterinarian to determine your bird’s individual dietary needs.