Eclectus parrots are native to Oceania and found in the largest numbers in Australia and New Guinea. They are found from the Solomon Islands to New Guinea and the Cape York Peninsula in North Queensland. They inhabit rainforest environments and typically stay at the canopy level, nesting 20-30 meters from ground level.
Eclectus parrots are fairly widely distributed across disparate landmasses.
However, they are not able to fly between these land masses as the distances are too far.
Thus, it’s thought that they spread across these now disparate areas at a time when they were still connected by land bridges.
Let’s find out more.
Where are Eclectus parrots native to?
Eclectus parrots are native to parts of Oceania, broadly.
They can be found in northern Queensland, particularly the Cape York Peninsula at the very northern tip of the country, and across Papua New Guinea as well as other islands in the area like the Solomon Islands.
This is where the species seems to have originated and the only place they are found in the wild, excluding feral populations which may in some places, have established themselves.
Compared to other species, their distribution is more concentrated and not as widespread.
The area over which they can be found is vast but encompasses a lot of ocean which they naturally do not inhabit.
They can be found as far as the Maluku Islands of Indonesia, and in small numbers can be found in mainland Indonesia.
They seem to have come from the Solomon Islands originally, and this is where the species and its progenitors most likely evolved.
However, they were first discovered by western naturalists in the late 18th Century, when European explorers found the male Eclectus parrots in the Moluccan Islands, or Maluku as they are known otherwise.
Because of the extreme degree of sexual dimorphism in the species, it was not until the end of the 19th Century that male and female Eclectus parrots were recognized as the same species.
So, broadly, Eclectus parrots are found in the northern tip of Queensland and on the surrounding islands. What about the specific kinds of environments they inhabit?
What environments do Eclectus parrots live in?
Eclectus parrots are endemic to the rainforest of the region, preferring to live and nest high up in the trees where their nests are protected from flooding.
They are vastly more common in rainforests, but they can also be found living in savannah woodland, swamps, plantation, and even gardens.
They often live near coastlines or bodies of water.
Interestingly, Eclectus parrots are not able to cover the distances between the separate landmasses on which they can be found.
An Eclectus parrot could not fly from Queensland to Papua New Guinea, for example.
So, it’s supposed that the species evolved at a time when these landmasses were connected, and the populations have since been split asunder.
The oceanic Eclectus is believed to have evolved sometime between the late Pleistocene era and the Holocene Epoch, but this species went extinct as a result of human settlement around 3,000 years ago.
So, Eclectus parrots of various kinds may have been much more widely distributed in the past.
This raises a common question people have about Eclectus parrots today—are they rare?
Are Eclectus parrots rare?
Generally speaking, Eclectus parrots are not rare.
They are a highly successful species and their conservation status is currently listed as least concern.
They are not in any danger of dying out in the wild and naturally their popularity as captive birds has further cemented their chances of survival.
It can be very hard to put precise figures on wild bird populations, and estimates for the number of extant Eclectus parrots in the wild range from 7,000 individuals up to over 50,000.
Their habitats certainly are under threat in many areas, particularly in Australia.
But they are far from threatened as a species and will continue to thrive for a long time.
Do Eclectus parrots live alone in the wild?
Eclectus parrots do not live alone in the wild, although they do tend to live in smaller flocks than a lot of other species of similar size.
The groups they live in can vary quite a bit.
Some may live only as a pair, and get by just fine that way.
However, what’s interesting about Eclectus parrots is that, unlike most species of parrots, they are polygynandrous—a mouthful of a word meaning that they do not just mate with a single suitor.
Females will mate with many males and males with many females.
Most parrots do not do this, and though they may live in large groups, they will still remain within mated pairs.
This means that a single pair of Eclectus parrots living outside of a flock is relatively rare, and they are much more likely to live in larger flocks of 10-20 or even 30 individuals.
Generally speaking, though, the groups don’t get much bigger than that.
Unlike cockatiels, for example, where you may have well in excess of 100 individuals in a flock, the environments that Eclectus parrots live in mean that they are not very likely to live in such large groups.
How long do Eclectus parrots live in the wild?
Eclectus parrots in the wild, if they’re lucky, can be extremely long-lived and endure for up to 50 years.
This is interesting because, in the wild, the average Eclectus parrot will usually live around 20-30 years.
Typically, the inverse is true—parrots in the wild live shorter lives than their captive counterparts.
There’s a lot of debate about why this is, but Eclectus parrots in the wild are uniquely well-situated to live very long lives.
They do not have a lot of natural predators, at least outside of Australia.
Birds of prey do sometimes hunt them, but these are not found in very large numbers in the Eclectus’ island habitats.
That said, there is still naturally a fairly high rate of infant mortality as in any wild species.
For those who make it past infancy, though, Eclectus parrots are not only uniquely long-lived, but also a lot more likely to reach that ripe old age than many other species of parrot.
Nesting as high in the trees as they do also gives them a big advantage in this area as they are out of the reach of snakes and other predators that dwell closer to the ground.
Will a tamed Eclectus parrot fly away?
A tamed Eclectus parrot certainly will fly away if given the opportunity.
Eclectus parrots tend to move around a lot when they are not nesting and breeding, so their natural instinct is usually to move around.
This means that, if given the chance, their natural instinct for nomadism will kick in if they get away.
If they are strongly bonded to you, they might return, but the chances are not good.
Eclectus parrots are not well documented as setting up feral populations as other species like Quaker parrots or parakeets.
This is more due to the fact they are not quite as able to survive harsher environments as the fact that they don’t escape if given the chance.
Keep your Eclectus parrot away from open windows and doors and the chance to get away.
Do eclectus parrots migrate?
Eclectus parrots do not migrate though they are semi-nomadic.
Migration is something that we are familiar with in the northern hemisphere as many birds do it for a variety of reasons, usually migrating south to avoid the harsh winter.
Most parrots, Eclectus included, do not do this.
That said, they are not completely stationary.
As I said, they are somewhat nomadic and will move around throughout the year following the availability of food and water.
During the breeding season, they will set up a more long-term nest, and as long as conditions remain favorable they may stay in one place as long as it suits them.
In any case, they do not migrate in the traditional sense.
Indeed, given that some populations of Eclectus parrots live on such tiny landmasses, they would not have anywhere to migrate to.
As I said, they can’t cover even the distances between the Cape York Peninsula and surrounding islands, much less migrate.
Eclectus parrots are concentrated in a relatively small localized area today, but nonetheless disparate populations have been isolated from each other by rising sea levels.
You can find them in a small part of Oceania today, from the northern tip of Queensland to Papua New Guinea and surrounding islands.