How to identify eclectus parrot subspecies? PART II

May 13th, 2016 | by Rudy Caccia
How to identify eclectus parrot subspecies? PART II
Taxonomy
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Read also the first part of this article:

How to identify eclectus parrot subspecies? PART I

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Sumba Island Eclectus (Eclectus roratus cornelia)

The southern Indonesian island of Sumba is home to the Cornelia Eclectus subspecies. This particular subspecies is rather geographically isolated from other Eclectus subspecies and this is most likely the reason for their unique appearance. Their overall size and weight is on par with the Vosmaeri and Aruensis at 380mm in length with weight ranging between 420gm – 540gm. Tail feather length is 160mm on average.

The cock bird is similar to the other subspecies cock birds but with subtle differences. Body shape is very similar to that of the Vosmaeri, with a relatively long jet black under tail that is tipped in a slight off-white lemon coloured tail edging. The upper tail colouration is heavily suffused in royal dark blue.  Often the tail can have a slight red edging. The upper mandible’s top half is bright red when mature, and the iris colour is deep amber to almost dark orange tending towards a red colouration. Like the Vosmaeri cock bird, the red oval patches  are visible when the wings are in the rest position. 

The hen is easily identifiable due to the fact that her entire body is almost red. She does, like all the other subspecies, retain the royal blue primary wing feathers but lacks the blue, purple or lavender breast colouration. Shades of light blue feathers on the shoulder bend are also visible. No orbital eye ring colour is evident and the iris colour is a pale yellow cream colour and is quite striking. 

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Eclectus roratus cornelia (c) Opa Bird Farm by Yohan Lie

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Eclectus roratus cornelia (c) Mark Windows

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Eclectus roratus cornelia (c) Mark Windows

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Eclectus roratus cornelia (c) Opa Bird Farm by Yohan Lie

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Eclectus roratus cornelia (c) Opa Bird Farm by Yohan Lie

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Eclectus roratus cornelia (c) Opa Bird Farm by Yohan Lie

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Tanimbar Island Eclectus (Eclectus roratus riedeli)

The Tanimbar Island Eclectus  is arguably as small as the far east Solomon Island and Biak Island subspecies  and is probably the easiest subspecies to identify. These little birds are found on Tanimbar Island, about 550km due north from Darwin Australia. They measure around 330mm in length and weigh between 350 – 400gm. The average tail feather length is 127mm.

In my opinion, the cock bird in this subspecies is the easiest to identify. Not only are they small and compact but they lack the visual red flanks which you see on all the other subspecies. You cannot see the flanks when the wings are in the rest position. The short tail is edged with at least 25mm of bright yellow which is very striking on the cock bird when viewed from the rear. The only other cock bird to rival such width of colour on the tail tip is the Aruensis subspecies. . Another stand out feature of this beautiful little bird is the aqua green/blue suffusion through the head. The Australian Eclectus has the same trait but not to such a degree as the Tanimbar Island subspecies. The overall green on the body is a light green similar to that of the Grand subspecies. The iris colour is amber/orange. 

As with the cock bird the hen is equally as striking and easily identifiable – it is a small and compact bird. The top half of the bird is very similar in colour to the Sumba Island  subspecies with the clear lack of blue, purple or lavender breast colouration. No oribital eye ring colouration is evident and the iris colour is similar in colour to that of the Sumba Island subspecies which is a creamy white colour. The bottom half of the bird from the vent down to the tail tip is very similar to that of a Vosmaeri hen. The under tail coverts are coloured in a bright buttercup yellow as well as the tail tip. Tanimbar Island hens have at least 25mm of bright buttercup yellow on the tail which in some cases can travel all the way into the vent which is very striking when viewed on the perch.

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Eclectus roratus riedeli. Note the bright yellow tail tip and blue Aqua hue on the head (c) Opa Bird Farm by Yohan Lie

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Eclectus roratus riedeli. Note the lack of red flanks on the sides of the cock birds breast and abdomen (c) Opa Bird Farm by Yohan Lie

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Aru Island Eclectus (Eclectus roratus aruensis )

The Aru Island Eclectus resides on Aru Island which is midway north east between Tanimbar Island and Papua New Guinea. With this subspecies we enter the last 5 subspecies which are all similar in body colouration. These are the hardest subspecies to differentiate due to the hens all sharing the orbital eye rings and breast bib lines.

Aru Island Eclectus are the second largest subspecies with an overall average length of 390mm and weigh between 450gm – 600gm. The body shape of this subspecies is  long and slender  with a long neck and a rather long tail compared to overall body length. Tail feather length is an average 162mm.

The green colour of cock birds is very hard to describe unless you can view the different subspecies next to each other. The green plumage colouration of an Aruensis is a lighter forest green – not as dark as for instance the New Guinea Red-Sided subspecies but also not as light as the Vosmaeri subspecies..   A common feature is blotches of red on the chest which is not evident on any other subspecies and varies between individuals.  The iris colour is deep orange tending to reddish orange in older birds. The upper mandible is also larger than that of the Vosmaeri subspecies. The tail tip of the cock bird is coloured in a bright yellow colour which can vary in width between individual birds. The colour width can range from 15mm to 30mm and even more in some unique cases. Young birds have a red wash through the tail tip which often moults out but sometimes can be retained for life.

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Eclectus roratus aruensis (c) Les Bios Zoisos by Denis Pasques – France

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Eclectus roratus aruensis (c) Les Bios Zoisos by Denis Pasques – France

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Eclectus roratus aruensis (c) Les Bios Zoisos by Denis Pasques – France

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Eclectus roratus aruensis (c) Les Bios Zoisos by Denis Pasques – France

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Eclectus roratus aruensis (c) Les Bios Zoisos by Denis Pasques – France

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Eclectus roratus aruensis (c) Les Bios Zoisos by Denis Pasques – France

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Eclectus roratus aruensis (c) Les Bios Zoisos by Denis Pasques – France

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The Aru Island hen is a very elegant looking bird. The length and size of these birds add to their beauty. The hen has a blue orbital eye ring and creamy white iris. The red head feathers flow down onto the chest to form a bib line that borders the shoulders of the bird. Below the red bib line a cobalt blue colour (lighter in colour to the New Guinea Red-Sidedsubspecies) travels down towards the red vent. The long tail is a maroon red that ends in a light red tip. An orange tinge is often visible on the tip as well. 

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Biak Island Eclectus (Eclectus roratus biaki)

The Biak Island Eclectus is found on Biak and surrounding islands in CenderawasihBay which is off the northern coast of West Papua, Indonesia.  In close proximity to the New Guinea Red-Sided Eclectus territory this subspecies has distinct traits which set it apart from this subspecies. The most distinguishing feature of the Biaki subspecies is that it is a very small bird and can be described and small and slim in body shape.  They are much smaller than the Red-sided subspecies and not as stocky as the Solomon Island subspecies.  They measure around 350mm in length and weigh between 370 and 430gm. Average tail feather length is 130mm.

The green colouration of the cock birds is similar to that of the New Guinea Red-Sided subspecies, however, a stand out feature of some Biaki cock birds is a slight aqua hue through the bright forest green head feathers – this can only be observed in the right lighting conditions where the light hits the head area from particular angles. The upper mandible is deep orange in colour which can tend to a reddish orange with age.   As mentioned before,the bird has a streamlined body with a rather long neck and tail which has a tinge of yellow on the tip. The iris colour of a mature cock bird is reddish orange.

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Eclectus roratus biaki (c) Laurella Desborough

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Eclectus roratus biaki (c) Susie Christian

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Eclectus roratus biaki (c) Susie Christian

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Eclectus roratus biaki (c) Susie Christian

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Eclectus roratus biaki. The upper mandible is deep orange and reddish in colour when fully mature (c) Laurella Desborough

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Eclectus roratus biaki (c) Laurella Desborough

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The hen is also a very striking bird and more intense in its colour in comparison to the New Guinea Red-Sided hen. The head and bib colouration is a bright red and the upper wing coverts and back are a maroon red. Below the red bib the breast and lower stomach region are coloured in a royal blue that has a tinge of purple. The tail is also a light red with a tinge of orange on the tail tip. The orbital eye ring is a royal blue colour and the iris colour a light cream.

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author: Rudy Caccia

Title photo: (c) Kiril Kolev. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

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2 Comments

  1. Pingback: How to identify Eclectus Parrot subspecies? PART III

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