Tanimbar Eclectus (Eclectus roratus riedeli) – Group: Red

Here you can see a female bird of the Tanimbar Eclectus (Eclectus roratus riedeli), which is one of only two subspecies where the female has a completely red body plumage, and therefore neither a blue nor violet/lavender-coloured breast band. Note the wide yellow band on the tip of the tail, which is missing in the other subspecies from the "red group", Cornelia's Eclectus (Eclectus roratus cornelia). Photo from the internet.

The starting point for this article is a taxonomic placement in accordance with "Howard & Moore's Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World", Vol. I, from spring 2013 as well as the latest version 4.1 (August 2018), "Errata and Corrigenda to Volume I", and with regard to nomenclature the publication "2023 Deutsche und englische Namen der Papageien, Akademie für Vogelhaltung", published in 2023 by Arndt Verlag (Berlin 2023_03-2023-06-05) is followed.

This subspecies is named after the Dutchman Johan Gerhard Friederik Riedel, who had traveled out and settled on the island of Sumba. From here he sent i.a. skinned specimens of this subspecies back to Europe, including the Dresden Museum, where A. B. Meyer in 1881, after further investigations, determined it to be a new type of Eclectus Parrot, and he cataloged it separately under the name "Riedel".

Colour description

Adult male: The male of the Tanimbar Eclectus (Eclectus roratus riedeli) appears - if possible - smaller than the males of any of the other types of Eclectus Parrots, thus competing with the Solomon Red-sided Eclectus (Eclectus roratus solomonensis) for being the smallest. The male has less visible red flanks on the sides of the chest than any of the other subspecies. The sides of the head and neck are more bluish green, and the vanes of the primaries are dark blue without any green edging. It is clearly lighter in colour than the nominate subspecies and the males of the other subspecies. The upper side of the green tail feathers has an approximately 2.5 cm wide pale yellow border along the tip of the tail. The upper side of the outer tail feathers is blue with a greenish tinge. The underside of the tail is black. The inner iris ring is orange, the outer iris ring is pale orange.

Adult female: The female of the Tanimbar Eclectus is very distinctive as, like its close relative, the Cornelia's Eclectus (Eclectus roratus cornelia), it has a complete red body plumage. It lacks any kind of blue or violet/lavender breast colour found in the nominate subspecies and the other subspecies. The red plumage is darker in colour than that found in the female Cornelia's Eclectus (Eclectus roratus cornelia). The lower part of the back and upper tail coverts are a dull dark red colour. The undertail coverts and a broad edge along the tip of the tail have a strong yellow colour, similar to that found in Vosmaer's Eclectus (Eclectus roratus vosmaeri). The outer iris ring is whitish yellow.

Length specification for this subspecies:

When you read various specialist literature on Eclectus Parrots, you may well be surprised by such different length specifications given for one and the same (sub)species. In addition, such a competent authority as Joseph M. Forshaw in his work, "Parrots of the World", 1st edition from 1973, (ISBN 0 7018 0024 0), does not indicate a length (neither an average length nor a span) for the different types of Eclectus Parrots. On that basis, I have chosen to use the length specifications from two other different sources, below:


  • Average length: 33 cm, according to "A Guide to ... Eclectus Parrots", revised edition from 2004, by Rob Marshall and Ian Ward (ISBN 0 9750817 0 5).
  • Length: 33 cm, according to “Lexicon of Parrots” (CD version 3.0) from 2008, by Thomas Arndt (ISBN 3-9808245-3-5).

Here you can also see a female Tanimbar Eclectus (Eclectus roratus riedeli), where you especially notice the wide yellow border along the tip of the tail, which - as already mentioned - distinguishes it from the other subspecies belonging to the "red group", Cornelia's Eclectus (Eclectus roratus cornelia). At the same time, the Tanimbar Eclectus is significantly smaller. Photo from the internet.

In the wild

The Tanimbar Islands, bordering the south-west of Aru Island, are home to this country endemic subspecies. The Tanimbar Islands, also called Timor Laut, are an archipelago consisting of about 65 islands in Indonesia's Maluku province, including Fordata, Maru, Molu, Nuswotar, Selaru, Selu, Seira, Wotap, Wuliaru, Yamdena and Larat. It is specifically the two latter islands that, according to BirdLife International, constitute the range of the Tanimbar Eclectus. Here it inhabits the rainforests with its range spreading throughout Yamdena, the largest of the Tanimbar Islands, and Larat Island to the north.

BirdLife International estimates its total range to be only 5,100 km2 covering what can be considered a single, small subpopulation that is thought to be undergoing continuing decline.

The Tanimbar Eclectus occupies the canopy of all wooded habitats. It is most common in primary lowland forest but is also found from coast to mid-montane areas, including mangroves, dryland forest, coastal scrub, denser savanna woodland, parkland, plantations, and garden areas. It becomes rarer above 1,000 m height but has been seen as high as up to 1,900 m.

It lives in the large rainforests, where it is difficult to observe as it blends in with flowers and leaves (the female's red colour is perceived as black/dark in the shade of the dense trees).

The Tanimbar Eclectus feeds on fruits, seeds, nuts, leaf-buds and blossoms.

Breeding takes place between August and September, possibly January but is very likely at any time of the year. Nests are found in holes high up on trees, generally in a clearing or at the forest edge, with up to eight birds attending each nest.

Male bird of the Tanimbar Eclectus (Eclectus roratus riedeli), where you also find the broad yellow border on the tip of the tail, which is particularly evident in the female bird. In addition, the bluish green colour in the head and neck as well as the barely visible red flanks on the sides of the chest are also noticeable. It is only approximately 33 cm long bird, similar in size to the Solomon Red-sided Eclectus (Eclectus roratus solomonensis), but where its upper bill is very bright yellowish, the upper bill of the male Tanimbar Eclectus (Eclectus roratus riedeli) has a strong orange colour. Photo from the internet.


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 make no detailed distinctions between the nominate subspecies and the other subspecies. However, BirdLife International uses another taxonomy than Howard & Moore, according to which the Tanimbar Eclectus (Eclectus roratus riedeli) not is considered a subspecies but as a completely separate species under the Latin scientific name Eclectus riedeli, which means that BirdLife International actually provide can a range of important information about this bird's movement and status in the wild:

In general, the number of individuals of this subspecies in nature has decreased as a result of human destruction of its habitats.

Furthermore, BirdLife International states that the Tanimbar Eclectus is susceptible to both habitat loss through deforestation and local trade. However, it is often observed at the edge of the extensive remaining forest suggesting that over the whole of Yamdena and Larat the rate of decline is still relatively low which may be due to large areas of Yamdena having limited access of people even today.

The threat posed by trapping and trade is also relatively low. The Tanimbar Eclectus only seems to be traded locally as some birds are kept as pets by natives on Yamdena and it is apparently not exported from the island in large numbers.

Nature protection measures

BirdLife International has categorized this bird in the threat category, "Vulnerable", and at the same time has estimated the remaining natural population at 6,600 – 10,000 mature individuals and, as already stated, the population trend is decreasing. At the same time, BirdLife International mentions that conservation actions are underway without further mentioning the nature of these actions.

This bird is listed on CITES, Appendix II.

Photos of the Tanimbar Eclectus taken by me on various occasions in Loro Parque, Tenerife, Spain.

In human care

The Tanimbar Eclectus was occasionally imported to what was then West Germany during the 1960’s.

This subspecies seems to be difficult to breed and is very rare in human care, as it is only found among very few individual breeders e.g. in Denmark and Germany. However, it can also be found in bird parks in Spain (Loro Parque) and Indonesia.

If you are lucky enough to have seen this bird face to face, it has a distinctive feature compared to the other types of Eclectus Parrots, as it (apparently especially the female) flaps its wings while sitting on a branch and at the same time often screams when it e.g. is in in affect or feels threatened.

Colour mutations

I am not aware of any colour mutations of this subspecies.


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

Jorgen Petersen

Conceived/Updated: 16.12.2011 / 01.04.2024