Choosing an Eclectus

Do male Eclectus make better pets than the females?

Female eclectus parrots DO make wonderful pets

 

 

 

 

 

There is nothing worse than being judged by others, especially when your reputation has been unjustly tarnished. Somehow, gorgeous Eckie hens everywhere have been labeled the problem children of the avian world. The Internet is rife with stories of hens being moody, temperamental, even labeled, ‘not pet material’. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Eclectus hens do make fantastic pets. In fact, we have two gorgeous Eckie hens that rule our home. Mia and Moto are the most wonderful companion parrots you could ever wish for. They are incredibly smart and affectionate, both have an amazing vocabulary-which they use in context-and their antics have us in constant stitches. We love our girls and believe hens make amazing companion parrots.

A healthy female Eclectus Parrot

Are they both affectionate?

As juveniles our males tend to be a little cuddlier whereas our hens are a slightly more independent, although this varies from parrot to parrot. Our hens are usually the first to want their snuggle time, but they want it ‘their way’ and are quick to tell you if you’re not doing it exactly right. While the males are happy to sit and relax on the couch with Mum and Dad, play with their toys or have some preening time, the hens will be in mental overdrive. Having already mastered their puzzle toys, they spend time observing and taking in everything around them, assessing their environment and looking for different ways to get up to mischief. The hens love to break the rules and have some fun.

More snuggle time with Mumma

Do both genders talk?

Without a doubt. Both the male and females are incredible talkers. When we are in the aviary, I can barely hear myself think, let alone hold a conversation with Jason. Talking comes naturally to our feathered kids and if they are treated as an important member of the family they will want to communicate with their flock. This may be in the form of talking, whistling or chortling. Not all parrots talk and this is their choice. It doesn’t make them any less of a companion bird; it just means we can enjoy their beautiful natural calls and chatters.

The Ultimate Guide to Eclectus Parrots
This is a short excerpt from our book The Ultimate Guide to Eclectus Parrots’. This chapter explains the differences between the male and female Eclectus parrot. It helps soon-to-be Eckie owners make an informed decision.Also included in this book:

  • Choosing the right breeder
  • The vet check
  • Establishing a routine
  • Baby calls and noise factor
  • Dietary needs
  • Settling your Eckie into their new home
  • Establishing a routine
  • Emergency care
  • And many, many more topics!

To purchase our book click on the icon below!

Download on the iBookstoreWeb Eclectus book

Eclectus health

Health Information

Noticing and understanding slight changes in your Eckie is critical to saving their life. Our feathered kids will try to tell us they are sick and if we know what to look for, we can better understand their cues. Monitor your Eckie on a daily basis. Take note of slight changes in behaviour, eating habits, weight loss, mood changes, feather quality and droppings.

Keeping weight charts helps monitor normal weight fluctuations and alerts you to abnormal weight loss.

The basic signs of an unwell bird are as follows:

  • Fluffing up their feathers to retain body heat. Hunkering down close to the perch
  • Lethargy
  • Regurgitation – other than normal hormonal related regurgitation
  • Weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Continued sneezing (This is not always a sign of illness. Parrots may sneeze for a variety of reasons: dust, pollen, airborne irritants, change in weather, dry air or they may have a small feather irritating their nares. Ensure you monitor your Eckie closely to rule out irritants.)
  • Wet or dry encrusted mucus around the nares
  • Change in demeanour e.g. depression, aggression
  • Dirty feathers or unkempt plumage
  • Decreased vocalisation
  • Unusual droppings
  • Diarrhoea
  • Increased defecating
  • Increased thirst
  • Sudden feather picking or irritated behaviour
  • Vomiting (This is different to regurgitation-Parrots shake their heads vigorously when vomiting and food will often be found on the top of their head.)
  • Inability to perch including hunkering down on the bottom of the cage
  • Tail bobbing – can indicate respiratory infection and serious illness
  • Open mouth breathing – can indicate respiratory infection and serious illness
  • Dizziness – unable to stand up, unable to walk or fly
  • Head tilting abnormally
  • Seizures

If your Eckie is exhibiting any of the above symptoms, please seek veterinary assistance immediately. Don’t wait to see how they go. Parrots have lost their lives unnecessarily because people wait to see if the illness will get worse. Many illnesses can be overcome if detected and treated in the very early stages.

Eclectus care
We are dedicated to helping owners understand the importance of avian health. Our book ‘The Ultimate Guide to Eclectus Parrots’ contains extensive information about Eclectus health, emergency care and how to keep your Eckie healthy and safe in the home.

This chapter includes information on:

  • Household dangers
  • Weight checks
  • The Eclectus moult
  • The importance of flight
  • The importance of worming
  • Nail trimming
  • Eckie safe plants
  • Abuse and neglect
  • Emergency care
  • And many more topics!

To purchase our book click on the icon below!

Download on the iBookstoreWeb Eclectus book

Eclectus molting information

 Care for your Eclectus during their molt

Kirsten 068

After shivering through the cold winter months, Summer is finally here. It is a time for sunshine, weekend barbecues and relaxing by the pool. It is also the time when our Eckies begin to molt.

Parrot Haven is home to 25 Eckies and one precocious yet very special African Grey parrot and at the moment, all our feathered kids are molting. Our place is decorated with scatterings of feather casings, white fluffy down and the odd primary or two. The aviary is a variable smorgasbord of feathers, from tiny petite head feathers to beautiful tail plumage.

This happens twice year at Parrot Haven however the pre Christmas molt is always the heaviest. Molting can certainly take it’s toll on our parrots. I can only imagine how irritating it must be walking around like a pin cushion, as hundreds of new feathers erupt through the skin.

As parrot slaves, we must understand that molting affects our kids moods, dietary needs, appetite and even sleep patterns. It certainly takes a toll on our kids bodies and we must do all we can to ease our kids through this time.

What is molting?

Molting is a process where old feathers fall out and are replaced by new ones. Feathers are made from a protein called keratin, just like our hair and fingernails. Unlike skin, keratin is unable to repair itself. If a feather is damaged or frayed, it will remain that way until the parrot molts.

The importance of protein

When a parrot molts, protein is taken from the Eckie’s body. If a parrot is not provided with protein rich foods to supplement this output, their body will be depleted.

An Eckie suffering from protein deficiency will be tired, lethargic and irritable. It will prolong their molt and the newly molted feathers will look dull, lacking their trademark glossiness.

It is very important to feed your Eckie foods which are high in protein, such as:

  • Cooked meat and chicken
  • Boiled eggs (cooked right the way through)
  • Almonds
  • Pumpkin seeds (also known as pepitas)
  • Lentils and pulses
  • Chia
  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Sweet corn

Change in appetite

Molting affects our Eckies’ appetites. Some kids become ravenous eating machines, while others become very fussy eaters, craving certain foods and rejecting others. Monitor your Eckie’s appetite carefully when molting, and take note of specific foods they crave. Our feathered kids listen to their bodies, and will source foods that will help ease them through molting.

 Moodiness

Molting can make the demurest of Eckies cranky and short tempered. Their body is working in overdrive to produce hundreds of pin feathers and many become irritable. Please, do not take this personally as many people have experienced this with their feathered kids.

My hen, Red, is terribly short tempered while molting. I know there is very little room for error and if I mis-read her body language, I will receive a nasty bite. As much as this hurts, I don’t take this personally. I know that once she has finished molting, she will return to her sweet self.

Everyone copes with their Eckie’s moods differently. Some ignore cranky behavior, leaving their kid alone until they are in a better frame of mind. Others distract their Eckie by offering a new toy or food treats.

Some Eckies become little sooks. They seek the love and comfort of their owner and demand cuddles and affection. This too is normal. Some of our hens seek extra cuddles while molting. Once they have molted their neediness reduces and their moods return to normal.

Aloe spritzes

Aloe spritzes help moisturize the skin, keeping it soft and supple. This allows the developing pinfeathers to break through the skin more easily. It is simple and cheap to make.

We buy 100% pure aloe gel from our local health food store. We then put 1 tablespoon of aloe into a spray bottle and fill it with a cup of warm water. Our kids love being misted by the warm, moisturizing water, and the aloe gives their feathers a spectacular sheen.

Some people choose to use a pre-mixed aloe drink. Please ensure there are no additives before using this.

Sleepy time kids

Molting takes its toll on our kids’ small bodies. It takes a lot of energy to grow hundreds of feathers, and our Eckies become tired and lethargic. Your Eckie’s sleep routine may change around molting time.  Many will take long catnaps during the day. Others will want to go to bed earlier, or sleep in. They need this extra sleep; it helps the body recuperate, so when playtime rolls around, they are re-energized and ready for fun.

Lots of extra love

Molting is a stressful time for our feathered kids. They feel itchy and out of sorts. Some kids become despondent when they molt. They know they look scruffy and it really upsets them. They are such sensitive little souls.

As devoted Eckie parents, we want to do everything we can to help our kids through this difficult time. So let’s give our molting kids an extra special treat to show them how much we care. It will make your Eckie feel very special.

For more information about the Eclectus Diet please visit our website

The Ultimate Guide to Eclectus Parrots contains 380+ pages of content dedicated to assisting owners care for their Eclectus.

It contains chapters on The Eclectus molt, diet, training, emergency care, bonding and much, much more

.Eclectus care

Download_on_the_iBookstore_Badge_US-UK_146x40_0824Web Eclectus book

From Breeding to Companion – Red’s Story

At the beginning of this year, Kirsten made the decision to give our breeding parrots a break from breeding. Some of our kids had been breeding for over a decade and while they’ve enjoyed some breaks throughout the years we felt that a longer term hiatus was needed.

Even before I became involved in the breeding side of Kirsten’s work, I was always amazed at the relationship she had with all of her breeding parrots. One of the things that fascinated me about her breeding technique was that it was ‘unconventional’ in the sense that she would interact with her breeding pairs. Because of this interaction, she knew each and every one of their unique personality traits. This in turn gave her the ability to match the personalities of their parrot babies with her approved clients.

Red was always one of our best breeders. She would consistently hatch and raise three Eclectus babies when she bred. After about 3-4 weeks she would tell Kirsten “I wanna come in for a shower”. This ‘call’ was Red’s way of telling Kirst that she was ready for her babies to be picked up and for Kirst to take over the rest.

Every time we pulled babies from her nest box, Red would always watch us while Sprout – ever so curious – couldn’t resist the urge to hop onto our shoulder and watch what we were doing close-up. Once we gently placed her babies into their mini carrier, we always showed Red that her babies were okay – and we always made it a point to thank her. We respect the work and effort that all of our breeding kids put forth.

We’ve never treated our breeding parrots like machines and we honestly believe that they can understand this.

When we pulled all of the nest boxes, the majority of the hens adjusted to this change quite easily. We stocked their flight with plenty of toys and fresh parrot-safe branches and they have been getting along quite happily.

Eclectus hen enjoys a snack of popcornRed on the other hand showed a great deal of interest in where ‘Mum & Dad’ lived and soon began lifting her foot up and looking up at the house when we would visit with the kids. We brought her a travel carrier which she stepped into quite happily and we brought her inside with us. Ever since then she has been an amazing pet. She helps Kirsten cook meals, prepare the fruit and veg that we feed the kids every day and she quite happily perches next to us when we work inside. She showers regularly with us and her vocabulary has grown amazingly!

So what makes all of this newsworthy? Red has been breeding for over 10 years. Typically when a breeding bird is retired, if they are sold as a companion parrot, the transition from ‘work’ to ‘play’ can be quite difficult for birds to adjust to. If the breeder has spent little time with their breeding parrots then suddenly being put into a situation where they are surrounded by people can be extremely difficult for them to handle.

Eclectus parrot henKirsten has tried very hard over the years to balance her breeding technique with an insight into what the parrots experience. Being empathic is a good way to live not just when it comes to human relationships. While her method may be non-traditional from a breeding standpoint, the results speak for themselves. We both have the most amazing companion parrot in part due to the way Kirsten has raised and cared for her all these years.

Red is just one story, but each of our kids has their own equally unique story. Our hope is that over time other breeders who share this same level of care for their birds will also enjoy the success we have.

Questions a Reputable Breeder Should Be Asking You

Over the years, we have had the privilege of matching the perfect homes for our precious Parrot Haven babies. Kirsten is one of the few breeders who takes her responsibility to her Eclectus Babies seriously. It’s not just about raising healthy, happy and confident parrot babies – our responsibility includes finding a home where our babies will be happy.

A breeder worth their salt cares more about finding the right home for their baby parrot than they do about making a sale

Reading through the long list of client testimonials on our site is one indication that we have successfully done this. This success is owing in part to Kirsten’s rigorous interview process where she puts potential Parrot Haven parents through their paces. While some may find this process intimidating, the purpose of this is to quite simply gage the level of commitment that a potential client has toward our Eclectus babies.

No one is expected to be an expert. It’s okay to not know the answers to her questions, but what we really want to know is; are you going to take your responsibility to our baby seriously?

An Eckie’s Life
A lot of sacrifice goes into breeding for both the breeder and the Eckie parents who made your baby for you. It’s not simply a matter of “just feeding” the breeding pairs and pulling babies. There are health checks, special diet routines, care and maintenance for the aviaries and thats before a baby is even hatched! Once the baby is hatched, specialised diets are provided so that the baby is getting the right kind of nutrition from their Mums (who are fed by the male Eclectus).

Once the babies are ready, they are removed from the nest boxes to begin their hand-rearing. Baby Eclectus Parrots are fed every three to four hours. Our babies are fed a non-diluted Tropican™ formula which is world renown for being the ultimate in nutrition for baby parrots. Each day we spend time socialising with the babies in preparation for life with their new family. After 2 ½ months, we then begin the transition to solid food as we introduce new babies to fresh fruits and vegetables. As they progress to their new diet they also start exercising their wing muscles with rigorous “flap-practice”. Not too long after they begin taking their first little flights.

Within a period of 3-3 ½ months a baby Eclectus Parrot goes from hatched to weaned. The process during those months is exciting, busy and exhausting. So while you contemplate buying a fully-weaned, hand-tamed Eclectus Parrot baby, remember all the work that both the breeder and the breeding parents have gone through.

What to expect from a reputable breeder
Naturally, given the hard work involved in breeding, a good breeder is not going to have the “first come, best dressed” attitude. No breeder should ever sell a parrot to an individual without first understanding a potential clients aptitude in caring for parrots. Each breeder will have their own process for handling this, but as a potential buyer, you should be wary of any breeder who doesn’t show this level of concern over their parrot babies.

If a breeder cares for their young parrots, then you can expect to be asked the following questions:

  • Have you had a parrot before? (if so, what kind?)
  • What made you choose this breed of parrot to buy?
  • What do you know about this breed?
  • Are you familiar with the proper diet these parrots require?
  • How much time will you be able to spend socialising with the parrot?
  • What is your family life like? (eg, are you single, married, with children? The purpose of this question is to gage whether a parrot baby that is more outgoing and energetic is more suited to you, or one with a calm demeanor)
  • What other animals do you currently have?
  • Do you know about the dangers of Heavy Metal Poisoning?

These are only a few of the most basic questions that Kirsten will ask of potential clients. The answers to these help her gage if the client is even ready for an Eclectus. Often, people will contact us wanting an Eclectus parrot without really knowing the level of commitment required to keep a happy and healthy Eckie. There have been occasions where once people realise how much is involved in an Eclectus, they decide to look into purchasing a smaller breed of parrot – or putting off their decision to buy altogether until they have done a little more research.

From a financial point of view, this might not make much sense – but that is what separates reputable breeders from the rest of the herd. A breeder worth their salt cares more about finding the right home for their baby parrot than they do about making a sale. In the 11 years that Kirsten has been breeding parrots – she has never once had a baby not find the right home. On occasion, it may require more time to find the right person, but it always happens.

Whether are looking to purchase a hand-tamed parrot or simply after reliable information about your parrot species be sure to find the right source. Look for a breeder or an individual that is passionate about parrots and their care. Make sure they have the experience to support their advice. Doing so benefits you, the breeding industry and most importantly the parrots themselves.

Beware of Unethical Breeding Practices

During this past year we have received an alarming number of emails from parrot owners who purchased their babies from seemingly reputable breeders only to find out later that their precious babies had pre-existing health conditions. When they tried to contact the breeder later they were either completely ignored or they could not provide the owner with information regarding the health and condition of the breeding parents – because they did not know.

After a bit of research, we’ve discovered a couple of practices that we believe are extremely harmful – not only to the unfortunate people who purchase these babies, but for the treatment of the breeding parrots in general.

Selling Third-Party Weaned Babies
One such practice that two of our Parrot Haven clients had experienced was the selling of third-party weaned babies. Third party basically entails someone outside of the breeder whom you are purchasing from is the one who has hatched and in some cases raised the parrot baby. What this means is that the “breeder” that you are buying from has not raised your baby. In the case of one of our clients, the breeder they originally bought from did not even know how to contact the individual who originally sold them the Eclectus baby!

The dangers of this practice are fairly obvious. The most detrimental aspect being that it encourages an anonymous breeding industry where the quality of life for the poor breeding birds and their babies is often neglected.

Aviculture is a serious profession. You are dealing with very fragile lives and the life of any parrot cannot be treated with a ‘trial-and-error’ attitude.

While Kirsten has always had a passion for Parrots – she did not even approach breeding until she had done extensive research both with Parrots and with the species she wanted to specialise in – Eclectus. This research took her years, during which time she consulted with other experienced breeders like Rob Pollard who is well respected in the field.

Breeding requires a lot of work and total commitment for the people involved. Eclectus Parrots are very difficult parrots to hand-raise due to their finicky eating bahaviour. Because of this, a breeder who wants to earn a solid reputation needs more than just passion. They need to be committed to their passion. This is where the anonymity of third-party breeders creates problems.

Answers to questions like these are difficult to impossible to ascertain:

  • How passionate are they about breeding?
  • How long have they been breeding?
  • What is their breeding setup like? (i.e. how are their breeding parrots housed, cared for etc.)
  • What diets are the breeding parents fed?
  • What formula are the babies fed? (With a lot of ‘backyard breeders’ babies are fed baby food designed for human babies not parrot babies. Each parrot species will have their own dietary requirements so it’s important to feed the right parrot babies the correct formula.)
  • Have the breeding parents ever suffered health problems?
  • Was the baby parent raised or were they hand-raised from the egg?

Answers to these questions help the potential parrot owner decide if they even want to purchase from the breeder and if your breeder is selling a third-party baby then they may not even know the answers to these questions.

It is important to ask any breeder the question up front: “Do you raise your own parrot babies or do you sell parrot babies from other breeders?” If they do sell parrot babies other breeders, then the choice is up to you whether to follow up with additional questions regarding the health of the parrot parents and the baby.

No Follow-up Service
Another problem we’ve helped people with, is the terrible lack of follow-up service offered by some breeders. One of our clients purchased their first Eclectus from a breeder with seemingly high reputation here in Australia, only to find that they would not offer any follow-up service after “the sale” was made. In the case of our client, they incurred a vet bill of over $1000 only months after they brought their new baby home due to a pre-existing condition.

Unfortunately – unless people know to ask – they often find out too late that some breeders really have no interest in their own parrot babies once they are sold.

This is a terrible practice because ultimately the parrot babies end up losing. Breeders who are not committed to their own parrot babies are probably not interested in finding appropriate homes for their babies and will typically sell to the first person who calls. This is extremely sad as Kirsten has turned more people down than she has ever sold to. After 11 years of breeding, that is a lot of people!

If you are looking for a good breeder, be careful of any wording that may alert you to a low level of commitment from them. Often if they advertise that “all sales are final” or that “the parrot is your responsibility once you have them in your possession”, then chances are you should be very cautious.

A reputable breeder does not need to worry about what happens when their parrot baby is sent to their new home if they have done their work and found the perfect home in the first place. If they keep their breeding parrots in good health, there is no reason not to offer follow-up service. If they have raised their parrot baby on a balanced, top-quality formula, then again they should have no worries about providing follow-up service.

Over the years, Kirsten has provided so many people with help at no cost because she cares about the welfare of pet parrots. Often, when she has asked people if they have contacted their breeder, the response is usually “I tried”.

We work extremely hard to encourage positive change in the way that parrots are kept as pets and how they are bred. The best thing you can do as a hopeful parrot owner is be aware of the dangers. Look for the warning signs of an unethical breeder. Most importantly, interview the breeder you are interested in purchasing from. If they are worth their weight in gold – then they will respect that you care about the health of your future parrot baby and how they are raised.

Hopefully, when enough people can do this then perhaps these breeders may change their ways and in the end, the parrots will win.

Eclectus Parrots – How Do You Source Reliable Information?

Over the years, we have helped hundreds of people with their questions on Eclectus Parrots. Everything ranging from Eclectus diets and behaviour to hormones and emergency care. Having bred Eclectus for over 11 years now, Kirsten has a unique perspective that  has proven invaluable to not only Parrot Haven clients, but for people  all over the world.

The internet is rife with “info” about Eclectus Parrots-and some of it is even true. Don’t always believe what you read. That is sound advice especially in the copy+paste internet age where bad advice can spread like a wildfire. Information repeated has the tendency to become fact when it shouldn’t. Accurate information is extremely important especially when the difference can mean life or death for your precious bird.

If you can’t get an impression of the person providing advice on their own website, chances are there is a reason for that. Be careful. People experienced in a breed of parrot are easily identifiable

Where to go for advice?
The responsibility for gleaning sound advice rests on your shoulders. Do your homework. Before taking anyone’s word for it-find out who they are. There are a lot of websites on Eclectus Parrots but sadly many of them plagiarise information in the attempt to sound like an authority when they are really nothing more than hobbyists who are ill-equipped to provide sound follow-up advice. There is nothing wrong with being a parrot lover and wanting to help, but often when people have to make someone else’s work look like their own, information becomes distorted. Suddenly advice on where to place your new Eckie’s cage goes from ‘a quiet area of the house’ (which is sound advice) to ‘a busy area of the house’ (which is not sound advice).

If you can’t get an impression of the person providing advice on their own website, chances are there is a reason for that. Be careful. People experienced in a breed of parrot are easily identifiable. Take a quick tour of any breeder’s website and get a feel for who they are. If you have trouble doing that then you should probably move on.

What makes good advice?
When Kirsten is approached by a parrot lover in need of help, she not only provides advice, but she explains the reasoning behind the advice. This is extremely beneficial for two reasons. First, it helps people understand the difference between the alternatives – why one method is better than the other. Secondly, it helps make advice memorable. People remember information that they understand.

When people have questions about why their Eclectus is behaving differently, Kirsten is able to explain the various phases of development that all Eclectus parrots have. She is able to do this because she has bred them for over 11 years and keeps companion Eclectus as well.

Help spread good information
For as efficient as the internet is for spreading misleading advice, it can be a wonderful tool for delivering good information too. Back when we setup our first website, our goal was just that – to help dispel so many of the myths about Eclectus parrots and educate people on the best ways to care for them. We have been elated to have helped several people reunite with their lost parrots through our blog. The Parrot Chatter forum that we setup two years ago has also been a fun way for us to keep in contact with our wonderful clients and other parrot lovers we’ve had the honour to meet.

We are working hard to help get the right information out there. The best way to help is to arm yourself with the right advice and repeat it. Information that is repeated has a habit of becoming fact and when it’s the right information then everyone wins – especially our Eckies!

Heavy metal poisoning in parrots

Heavy Metal Poisoning

I have received many calls over the years from people whose parrot died suddenly and for no apparent reason, leaving the owners baffled and distraught. After questioning them about the symptoms and the events leading up to the parrot’s death, it’s often clear that the most likely cause of death was heavy metal poisoning (HMP). Sadly, many people don’t know or understand the very real dangers that heavy metal poisoning (or heavy metal toxicity) poses to parrots.

HMP occurs when a parrot ingests a particle of heavy metal.  Once ingested it begins to poison the parrot, affecting the kidneys, blood cells, intestines and nervous system. This makes the parrot very ill and can cause rapid death. Continue reading