The emerald green male
bright red female
are so different from each other that they for a long time were thought
to be two different species.
The species is also found in Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and on some
Pacific Islands, but in
Australia, the only place to see these birds in the wild
is some eastern rainforests on Cape
The best places to see these rare
birds and other Cape York's unique birds and animals are
in the Destination
Is It Found?
There are about 10 subspecies of Eclectus parrot
found in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Australia, Solomon Islands, and
some other smaller Pacific Islands.
The only one found on mainland
Australia is the so-called Australian Eclectus parrot, Eclectus roratus macgillivrayi,
which lives in lowland tropical rainforests.
The largest lowland
tropical rainforests that remain in Australia are found in
the eastern Cape York,
and the species is endemic
to these areas.
Do They Look Like?
Australian Eclectus Parrot is
the largest of all the subspecies,
about 45cm long and weighs more than half a kilo, with a short tail and
a wing span of
almost a metre.
But the most obvious thing about their appearance is the huge sexual dimorphism
(difference between sexes).
has a bright red
body, head and wings (back and wings a bit darker red), a blue belly
and blue wing edges, a black peak, yellow eyes and a purple ring around
the eyes. The male
has an emerald green body, head and wings, blue tail tip and wing
edges, and red underwings. It has an orange-yellow upper beak and a
lower beak, and orange eyes with a grey eye ring.
It is unusual
for the two sexes to be so different, and it is also unusual amongst
birds in general that the red bird is the female, since males usually have the brightest
No wonder early
ornithologists thought they were two different species.
reason for that
colouring is their lifestyle. The female spends 90%
of her life in her nest hollow while the male is foraging around and
often even feeding the female.
The green colour of the
male is perfect camouflage while out and about,
and the red colouring of the female camouflages her in the darkness of
the hollow nest.
If she's out she's likely protecting the nest so the red colour works as a warning
approaching the nest.
Do They Eat?
in trees, often high
up in the canopy, and their main diet is fruits, nuts, seeds, and nectar from
They require a high fiber diet and their particular favourites are papaya and pomegranate fuits.
quite long - from July to January.
They nest in large
hollows, high up in tall rainforest trees, which are either emergent, or in a clearing or
at the edge of the forest.
Good hollows are not easy
to find and the female may spend 11 months of the year
defending the hollow, rarely leaving and relying on males to feed her.
Both sexes can mate with several partners,
which again is unusual
Female lays two
eggs and incubates them for about 26-28 days.
Both parents participate in chick
care and may even be helped
by the previous years' offspring - a behaviour quite common in other
Australian birds including the laughing kookaburra.
The young leave the nest
at about 11 weeks of age.
It usually takes them about two years before they reach maturity. Females
poor hollow nests that have a male and a female chick are known to
kill the male chick to give better chances to the female.
conservation status of this subspecies is vulnerable, mainly
due to the very small areas of lowland
rainforest left in Australia.
threat is habitat
loss, and also any loss of large rainforest trees that have large
hollows suitable for nesting.
It is written by an eclectus parrot researcher and while presented in a
simple way, contains a whole section about the parrot with
some amazing photos and interesting information. There are also photos
and information about other amazing birds and animals in Cape York,
such as palm
this 50 pages
guide totally for FREE.
contains information that helps you getting started with planning of your trip.
You get to make early-stages desicions such as when to go, how long time you
should take, how to get
there and get
to stay (general info), what
will it cost..
and a short insight to what is there to see and do in Cape York.
This complete 300 pages
travel guide is all you need before and during your trip. Besides the
background chapters on the peninsula's history and wildlife; and the comprehensive detail about all
the places (down to prices, opening hours and full contact
detail), it has invaluable information on at least 10 four wheel drive tracks,
at least 30 guaranteed FREE
camping spots on the Cape (and at least 150 on your way to
the Cape), at least 40 best
swimming holes, all mapped; as well as practical things -
from fuel, roads, wireless internet and mobile phone reception,
how to deal with the national
parks booking rules; and Aboriginal land entrance and camping permits
and alcohol restrictions - to vehicle preparation and accessories and necessary recovery
gear by my vehicle-recovery-guy partner).
Not to mention locals'
tips on how to spot that croc and palm cockatoo ;-)
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