Papuan Red-sided Eclectus (Eclectus roratus polychloros) – Group: Blue

A beautiful, young – strong and vital - male Papuan Red-sided Eclectus (Eclectus roratus polychloros) of own breeding. This subspecies is the most widespread type of Eclectus Parrot both in the wild and in human care, where - until now - it primarily has been known under the name New Guinea Eclectus Parrot or Red-sided Eclectus Parrot.


The Latin subspecies name "polychloros" comes from poly = many and chloros = green/yellowish pale, which probably stems from the fact that the bird's green colour changes in many shades in the sunlight.

This subspecies was first described by the Italian physician and natural historian, Giovanni Antonio Scopoli, back in 1786, i.e. 10 years later than the nominate subspecies, Seram Eclectus (Eclectus roratus roratus).

Many Danish aviculturists have this subspecies in their collection, and it is well justified, as it is a magnificent bird both by virtue of its splendor of colour and its generally lovely, friendly and curious nature.


Colour description

Adult male: The male has a deep forest green colour with a yellowish tinge, which is more visible on the head and throat areas. The primary coverts are dark blue. The outer vanes of the primaries have a distinct green border. The tip of the tail is delimited by an approximately 1.25 cm wide pale light-yellow border. The edge along the tip of the tail is particularly visible when viewed from below, and is narrower than the corresponding edge on the male Vosmaer's Eclectus (Eclectus roratus vosmaeri). The outer iris ring is orange-red in colour.

Adult female: Breast, upper back and lower abdominal region are brilliant royal blue. This royal blue colour forms a very clear "bib", which shows a well-defined line between the royal blue colour and the red throat and the red head feathers. In some individuals, a light violet hue is seen. The intensely coloured red feathers on the head and throat extend down to the bird's sternum and provide a sharp contrast to the brilliant blue "bib". This "bib" is placed low on the breast and almost seems to cut the bird in two halves. The feathers from the brilliant blue "bib" do not extend beyond the bend of wing when the wings are closed. If you see a female bird with a brilliant bluish violet "bib" that extends beyond the closed bend of wing, it is almost certainly a cross-bred bird. The back, upper tail coverts and thigh feathers are dark red (reddish maroon). The inner parts of some of the wing feathers are green. These are overlapped by the next feathers. Some of the back feathers may also show a green colour (closest to the body) under overlapping feathers. The tail is reddish maroon at the base and becomes lighter red towards the middle to finish with a pinkish colour which often has a tinge of orange.

A narrow eye ring of tiny blue feathers encircles the entire eye. This blue eye ring usually appears after the bird's first moult and cannot usually be observed until the bird is more than a year old. Females with a darker blue colour pattern on the breast appear to have a narrower blue eye ring. The outer iris ring is whitish yellow.

  • Average length: 37 cm, according to "A Guide to ... Eclectus Parrots", revised edition from 2004, by Rob Marshall and Ian Ward (ISBN 0 9750817 0 5).
  • Length: 37 cm, according to "Lexicon of Parrots" (CD version 3.0) from 2008, by Thomas Arndt (ISBN 3-9808245-3-5).

Although this subspecies is generally slightly larger than the nominate subspecies, Seram Eclectus (Eclectus roratus roratus) and slightly smaller than Vosmaer's Eclectus (Eclectus roratus vosmaeri), some individuals of the Papuan Red-sided Eclectus (Eclectus roratus polychloros) occur yet larger than Vosmaer's Eclectus (Eclectus roratus vosmaeri).

Here you can see a pair of Papuan Red-sided Eclectus (Eclectus roratus polychloros), which is an ornament to any bird collection. Over the past several years, prices in Europe for this subspecies have fallen quite significantly, which can be both an advantage and a disadvantage. On the one hand, more aviculturists get the opportunity to keep these magnificent birds, but on the other hand, unfortunately, in some cases there is less incentive to take good care of the birds. Photo from the internet.

In the wild

This subspecies is by far the most numerous subspecies in nature, and it also has the largest distribution area.

Unfortunately, however, clearing the rainforest in New Guinea means that the species' natural habitats become fewer and more limited, which is why the population is reduced.

The Papuan Red-sided Eclectus (Eclectus roratus polychloros) is indeed widespread throughout New Guinea. It also inhabits the mainland rainforests of the highland valleys such as the Wau Valley as well as the West Papua Islands (Jobi, Mios, Nom, Waigeo, Batanta, Salawati and Misool), Kai and the islands off the coast (Goodenough and Normandy) and the Misol-Key Islands, South East Islands, Trobriand Islands. It is also found on New Britain, the D'Entrecasteaux Islands and the Louisiade Archipelagos. Finally, it has been introduced on Koror, the Goran Islands in Indonesia and on some smaller islands in the Palau archipelago.

The Papuan Red-sided Eclectus lives in the canopy of all forested areas in its distribution area. The most common habitats are primary lowland forest, but it is also found in coastal rainforest areas and in – as already mentioned - mountains and valleys, e.g. mangroves, freshwater swamps, dryland forest, coastal scrub, denser savannah forest, plantations, parks and gardens in urban areas. In the mountainous habitats, the bird is much rarer above 1,000 meters, but it has been encountered up to an altitude of 1,900 meters.

This bird typically feeds on fruits, e.g. fig-like fruits, as well as seeds, nuts, leaf buds and flowers. It generally breeds between August and September, but - if feeding opportunities are available - very likely at any time of the year. The nests are found in holes high up in the tree, generally in a clearing or at the edge of the forest, with up to eight birds attending each nest.

Their primary biotope is thus trees, and you can often see them roaming around a lot in small flocks. The females like to hide in the canopies and scream violently when they are startled.

It is not uncommon for some Eclectus females (as is also known from a large number of other parrot species) to pluck feathers from themselves on the breast in order to better release heat to the eggs, and that it generally looks somewhat "worn" in the breeding period. However, there must not be actual bare parts on the body, as this could be a sign of a general habit of plucking feathers and therefore a bird that you should not buy. Other females like this on the above photo, one of my own breeding females, completes a fully successful breeding season with a plumage that is just 100 % in order despite the great work the female bird does throughout this period.


BirdLife International, the official "Red List" authority for birds on behalf of the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), continuously assesses the status of how threatened all kinds of birds are in the wild. However, as a starting point, BirdLife International only operates at the species level and not at the subspecies level, which means that all possible subspecies, including the nominate subspecies, which together make up the species, are grouped together under this. In its descriptions and assessments, BirdLife International makes no detailed distinctions between the nominate subspecies and the other subspecies.

In addition, it must also be stated that BirdLife International uses another taxonomy than Howard & Moore, which means that the Papuan Red-sided Eclectus (Eclectus roratus polychloros) is considered one of 5 subspecies (namely the nominate subspecies, Eclectus polychloros polychloros) of the "Red-sided Eclectus" species (Eclectus polychloros), which are treated as one by BirdLife International:

Howard & Moore's taxonomy:

The species Seram Eclectus (Eclectus roratus (roratus)) have 8 subspecies, among them the following (blue-breasted) subspecies:

• Aru Red-sided Eclectus

  (Eclectus roratus aruensis)

• Biak Red-sided Eclectus

  (Eclectus roratus biaki)

• Australian Red-sided Eclectus

  (Eclectus roratus macgillivrayi)

• Papuan Red-sided Eclectus

  (Eclectus roratus polychloros)

• Solomon Red-sided Eclectus

  (Eclectus roratus solomonensis).

Taxonomy used by BirdLife International:

The species Red-sided Eclectus (Eclectus polychloros) consists of:

• Aru Red-sided Eclectus

  (Eclectus polychloros aruensis)

• Biak Red-sided Eclectus

  (Eclectus polychloros biaki)

• Australian Red-sided Eclectus

  (Eclectus polychloros macgillivrayi)

• Papuan Red-sided Eclectus

  (Eclectus polychloros polychloros) –

   the nominate subspecies

• Solomon Red-sided Eclectus

  (Eclectus polychloros solomonensis).

Bird Life International's current threat assessment of this species - the Red-sided Eclectus (Eclectus polychloros) - in nature is categorized in the "Least Concern" category. This obviously covers very large individual differences between the individual subspecies, i.a. because their distribution areas are of very different sizes. However, the Papuan Red-sided Eclectus (Eclectus roratus polychloros) has a colossally large distribution area (in New Guinea, the world's second largest island, and surrounding islands) and it is not in any way threatened in wildlife.

According to BirdLife International, the following applies to the Red-sided Eclectus (Eclectus polychloros - i.e. all 5 subspecies under one): The population trend appears to be decreasing, but the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for the status as Vulnerable, etc., as recent surveys and estimates indicate that the population remains large. Actually, BirdLife International estimates the population size at 990,000 - 1,100,000 mature individuals throughout the natural range. The species remains common and in places abundant and the decreasing trend is explained as a result of habitat loss from deforestation and hunting and trapping for the wildlife trade. The species' total range in the wild is estimated by BirdLife International to be 3,780,000 km2, corresponding to approximately 36 % of Europe's total area.

Nature protection measures

BirdLife International has not listed specific conservation measures for this CITES-listed subspecies, Appendix II.

Here you see another of my own birds, a female Papuan Red-sided Eclectus (Eclectus roratus polychloros), "Sille", who in every way is a wonderful bird to me, but who unfortunately cannot stand the sight of women, as she – as originally bought as hand-reared – has a deviant behaviour and cannot tolerate women near her. All women (including my wife) – regardless of age – are considered a competitor, after which she displays aggressive behaviour and, in every way, will try to attack to bite.

In human care

It was introduced to London Zoo back in 1859 and was regularly introduced to Europe until the 1970’s. When imports of this subspecies came to Europe, many specimens were in extremely poor condition and therefore delicate and difficult to handle. A large number of birds perished over the years due to the long transport and the conditions under which the transport took place in earlier times, which i.a. could result in refusal to eat with a fatal outcome.

When you see Eclectus Parrots offered for sale in Europe, it is typically this subspecies. It is the most popular subspecies in human care worldwide. In Australia, however, the most widespread Eclectus Parrots are unfortunately cross-bred specimens of the Papuan Red-sided Eclectus (Eclectus roratus polychloros) and the Solomon Eclectus (Eclectus roratus solomonensis), which is said to be due to surplus birds from Taronga Park Zoo in Sydney, that already in the 1950’s began breeding these birds in a large "mixed" aviary, and where cross-breeding between the two subspecies continuously took place. In contrast, "pure" strains of Papuan Red-sided Eclectus (Eclectus roratus polychloros) are well established in both the USA and Europe.

The birds are lovely and calm in human care. Males become familiar quickly, while females are more reserved, and some can sometimes be quite aggressive.

It was Mr. Poul Nielsen from Søborg (Copenhagen), who achieved the first Danish breeding of this subspecies back in 1970, when he successfully managed to get a chick that fledged the nest. When I was quite young, I had the opportunity to see this pair of birds with the chick at the “Foreningen for Fuglevenners” (Association for Bird Friends') exhibition in Haveselskabet's Garden in Frederiksberg (Copenhagen). Already in the same year, this subspecies was also bred in the neighbouring country, Sweden, in Malmö.

Some pairs are easy to breed and these kinds of birds breed regularly and may have two cluches of chicks per year, while other pairs show no interest in breeding at all, or may breed once or twice and then never return to the nest. When the birds are breeding, some female birds, as already stated, may begin plucking feathers from themselves on the breast in order to better release heat to the eggs, but this is usually quite natural.

The Papuan Red-sided Eclectus (Eclectus roratus polychloros) is, like the other types of Eclectus Parrots, known for a voracious appetite. When feeding these birds, it can often seem as if it was not the day before, but several days ago, that they were last fed, but this is part of the Eclectus Parrot's nature.

When you want to start breeding with these birds, you should offer them different options for nest boxes. You can experiment with different sizes of vertical boxes, but you can also try horizontal boxes. Some aviculturists are big supporters of slanted vertical nest boxes, as there is then less risk of the female destroying the eggs if she "jumps" or "falls" into the bottom of the nest box. I exclusively use vertical nest boxes, where a stepladder is mounted on the inside just below the nest entrance hole. At the same time, my nest boxes are very wide in the bottom area, so that the female is not immediately able to destroy any eggs she may have.

When the female is incubating, she can lie impatiently "beeping" or almost "meowing" at the male, so that he eventually comes to the nest box and looks inside. She then comes out of the nest box and begs food from the male on a branch near the nest box. The male is usually never allowed to enter the nest box itself. At most, he is allowed to sit and keep watch right in front of the nest box or to - once in a while - look in to see if everything is okay.

Blue colour mutation of a Papuan Red-sided Eclectus female (Eclectus roratus polychloros). It is debatable whether it is really beautiful compared to the impressive wild-coloured specimens. The reason why this colour mutation is interesting among certain aviculturists is probably rather that it appears differently and until a few years ago was very rare and very expensive. This colour mutation has previously been sold at insanely high prices, e.g. in Holland. As always, the blue colour mutation is inherited autosomal recessively, whereby there are also split birds (cf. the articles on the Lovebird genus here at Photo from the internet.

In the 2011 breeding season, female Papuan Red-sided Eclectus (Eclectus roratus polychloros) were bred in a few different places in the Netherlands, where the pure red body feathers were replaced with almost orange-red feathers, which are very yellowish in the facial area itself. I am not aware if this colour tone was retained after the first moult. Photo from the internet.

Colour mutations

As you know, is not a forum for colour mutations, except that when such are found, they are mentioned briefly. Therefore, the genetic conditions and correlations that lead to the birds' plumage changing colour will not be explained here either, but it is simply established that colour mutations exist.

Over the past many years, colour mutation birds have also appeared among the large parrot species, including this subspecies of Eclectus. In contrast to when working with colour mutations among the smaller parrot species, where the birds become sexually mature within a shorter period, you must arm yourself with significantly greater patience when you want to work with colour mutations of the large parrot species. It takes years before these birds become sexually mature, which is why you have to be extremely patient if you embark on this discipline, in addition to the fact that it requires a significant financial investment to acquire such a colour mutation. The large gender difference in the plumage of wild-coloured Eclectus Parrots is of course also noticeable when working with colour mutations, which can be seen in the blue colour mutation that occurred a years ago in this subspecies with a European aviculturist. Also, when it comes to colour mutations within this parrot species, for a number of years it was a now deceased Dutch aviculturist who "led the way".

The blue colour mutation in male birds appears largely blue in the plumage, as the green part of the plumage is everywhere replaced by feathers that appear blue. The red flanks along the body and on the under wing-coverts are replaced by white feathers, just as the yellowish border along the tip of the tail is whitish. The female bird, when it mutates, retains its blue colour on the breast, belly and neck as well as - of course - the very thin ring of tiny feathers around the eye. On the other hand, all the pure red feathers on the head and neck, the upper part of the breast and the rest of the underside, which are not naturally blue, are whitish (as you know, for example, in the blue colour mutation of the Crimson Rosella (Platycercus e. elegans). The female bird's upper back, wings and the upper side of the tail are almost greyish, but the wild-coloured female birds do not have a pure red colour in these places either, it is almost reddish brown (i.e, melanin is mixed in the red psittacine in these places). The almost pink border along the tip of the tail of the wild-coloured female bird is replaced by a visible white border on the blue colour mutation.

As always, when we talk about the blue colour mutation, it is inherited autosomal recessively (see articles about this under the individual Lovebird species here at, which means that there also are wild-coloured birds with hidden predispositions for blue, called split birds.

Further colour mutations have also occurred over the years within this subspecies, as the natural potential for this is obviously present.

From time to time there have also been reports of birds with an atypically coloured plumage, e.g. male birds that have had a lot of red feathers in various places in their plumage or female birds that have green feathers on their reddish-brown wings. In some cases, there may even be modifications, i.e. non-hereditary changes to the colour of the plumage, and often there have been birds that, after one or more moults, have acquired the "normal appearance", i.e. the usual colouring of a wild-coloured bird. Some of these colour changes may be due to illness, hormonal changes or improper nutrition.

A female Papuan Red-sided Eclectus (Eclectus roratus polychloros), which I also encountered during my last visit to the Hawaiian Islands, where the luxury hotels keep tame parrots within their resort areas, which are characterized by impressive parks with trees. As you can see on the bird's right wing, this parrot is quite aggressively clipped, so that the bird can spend most of the day sitting in special trees and entertaining the hotel guests. In the evening – possibly after participating in a few shows where the birds perform rehearsed arts – they are collected and taken away so that they can spend the night in a secluded place away from tourists.


See the section on nutrition under the article "Generally about Eclectus Parrots" and the article on the nominate subspecies, Seram Eclectus (Eclectus roratus roratus).

Jorgen Petersen

Conceived/Updated: 16.12.2011 / 01.04.2024