Vosmaer's Eclectus (Eclectus roratus vosmaeri) – Group: Violet/Lavender

A female bird of Vosmaer's Eclectus (Eclectus roratus vosmaeri), in a number of countries better known as the Halmahera Eclectus, named after the island of Halmahera. However, the island of Halmahera is only one of many islands in Oceania where this subspecies can be found in the wild. Note the female bird's wide, pure cadmium-yellow border along the tip of the tail, as well as the same pure yellow colour on the rump/all undertail coverts, which is characteristic of pure specimens of this subspecies.

Rothschildt of the Tring Museum in London determined this - according to Howard & Moore subspecies - as late as 1922, and named it after the Dutchman who was director of the royal natural history collection at The Royal Natural History Cabinet.


This subspecies is said to be the second largest subspecies after the Australian Red-sided Eclectus (Eclectus roratus macgillivrayi).


The female is very distinctive and is easy to identify. With some experience, this also applies to the male bird.


Both sexes are truly beautiful, being very brightly coloured and elegant in stature. Their rather elongated bodies give them a balanced appearance.


Colour description

Adult male: The male has bright green plumage, which is more intense compared to the male of the nominate subspecies, Seram Eclectus (Eclectus roratus roratus). It appears to have an almost fluorescent and bright (clear) intensity over its grass-green colour, which is due to a yellowish tinge.


An oval area of bright red feathers can easily be seen on the upper body sides (flanks) when its wings are folded. When the male opens his wings to court or to adopt a defensive posture, the bright red area running down the side of the body, under the wings and continuing all the way to the underwing coverts is an incredibly beautiful sight. When the wings are unfolded to fly, in addition to this beautiful red colour, you also see a brilliant turquoise blue colour on the bend of wing.


The tail is strongly mixed with blue and is edged with a pale yellow colour. This pale yellow tail tip varies in width, but is usually very visible. The edge is wider and more defined than in males of any other subspecies, which are often found in human care. The only other subspecies with a wider yellow tail tip is the male Riedel's Eclectus (Eclectus roratus riedeli), which is almost never found in human care. The tail has a blackish overtone and does not have the clear brilliant cadmium yellow colour found in the female. The male also has one of the longest tails among the subspecies, and its length is somewhat comparable to the tail of the Aru Red-sided Eclectus (Eclectus roratus aruensis), but the male Vosmaer's Eclectus (Eclectus roratus vosmaeri) is much more burly built.


The upper beak is bright reddish orange. It is brightly coloured red at the base and finishes with a yellowish orange colour at the tip of the bill. It has one of the lightest upper bill of any Eclectus subspecies. The lower bill is black. The outer iris ring of adult birds is yellow to orange-yellow.

One of my own birds, a very young male of Vosmaer's Eclectus, where you can already see some of the features that distinguish this subspecies from the other forms of Eclectus, partly the almost luminous (fluorescent) grass green plumage (it becomes much clearer when it has moulted to adult plumage), partly the very broad - and thus obvious - red flanks on the sides of the body, where the feathers - as something very distinctive for this subspecies - often lay clearly on the outside of the folded wings.

Adult female: The female is one of the most striking among the females of the subspecies. The back of the head is a bit flat. The female also appears to have a very long neck compared to other subspecies.


The breast feathers are light violet, but appear paler on some individuals. To the naked eye, the breast feathers appear to be of an almost hair-like quality. In fact, these feathers are composed of barbs that have a thin line of brilliant blue and red barbules edged with grey. It gives an effect that appears as a light violet colour. The outer edges of the feather barbs have short barbules and the tips have no barbules. This gives the feathers the aforementioned hair-like quality. The red body feathers have bright red barbs and barbules that are brighter red. This also gives the head feathers a brilliant shade of red. The colour of the head is lighter on the Vosmaer's Eclectus female, where the barbules are red, than on the Red-sided Eclectus female (Eclectus roratus polychloros), where the barbules are greyish black. The red barbs are similar in both subspecies, but the greyish black barbules of the Red-sided Eclectus (Eclectus roratus polychloros) create an overall effect of a darker red colour in this subspecies.


The violet breast feathers are gradually mixed over an area of approximately 2.5 – 3.75 cm towards the red head feathers in a wide area which ends near the bird's throat. There is no clear dividing line or "bib" that is as obvious as in the Red-sided Eclectus (Eclectus roratus polychloros). The nape of the neck and upper back have a rich band that is deep violet. There is also a broad band of violet on the body which flows over the bend of wing when the bird's wings are folded. The back and upper wing coverts have a deep red colour which is lighter than that seen in the other types of Eclectus Parrots.


The undertail coverts and underrump feathers are cadmium yellow. The upper side of the tail is dark red with a distinct band of cadmium yellow, which can measure approximately 2.5 - 3.75 cm in width. As a rule, the width of this yellow tail band corresponds to the hue of the violet breast colour - the wider the yellow tail band, the brighter the violet colour. A narrower yellow band correlates to a darker violet breast colour, often tending towards the breast colour of a female Seram Eclectus (Eclectus roratus roratus).


The cadmium yellow colour is also variable on the underside of the tail. Typically, the undertail coverts are yellow and the broad undertail band is cadmium yellow. If you see a female bird with violet breast feathers and yellow and red spotted undertail coverts, it is not a pure female Vosmaer's Eclectus, but the bird is probably the result of cross-breeding. You should always make sure that females have a pure cadmium yellow tail.


The tail is long compared to females of most other subspecies. The feathers on the thighs are dark red in colour. The violet colour ends between the legs, and the red colour continues from here to the rump. The outer iris ring of an adult female is golden to amber.


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: 38 cm, according to "A Guide to ... Eclectus Parrots", revised edition from 2004, by Rob Marshall and Ian Ward (ISBN 0 9750817 0 5).
  • Length: 38 cm, according to “Lexicon of Parrots” (CD version 3.0) from 2008, by Thomas Arndt (ISBN 3-9808245-3-5).

Here you see a female bird of Vosmaer's Eclectus which is characterized by current moulting. This is a bird that I acquired as an adult bird, and which from the beginning was not to be approached, as it was alternately quite aggressive and fearful. By constantly going around the bird quietly and speaking softly to it - and not least by offering "treats" - we succeeded over time in making it quite familiar. With familiar birds you also achieve better breeding results.

In the wild

This subspecies is native to the central and northern Maluku Islands (Moluccas), where they inhabit the larger islands, including Morotai, Halmahera, Mare, Kaisa, Kayao, Batjan, Damar and Obi.


It is possibly extinct on the islands of Ternate and Tidore.


It occupies the canopy of all wooded habitats and is most common in primary lowland forest but is also found from coast to mid-montane areas, including mangroves, freshwater swamp, dryland forest, coastal scrub, denser savanna woodland, parkland, plantations, and garden areas. It becomes much rarer above 1,000 m but has been encountered up to 1,900 m. Typically feeds on fruits, seeds, nuts, leaf-buds and blossoms; it has been said to raid gardens for fruit on the island of Obi also.


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


Its habitat is at a distance of approximately 200 km from the Seram Eclectus' (Eclectus roratus roratus) range.


Although it is one of the most well-known subspecies in human care, very little is known about it in the wild, which may also have to be seen in light of the fact that it was only recognized in 1922.



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 Vosmaer’s Eclectus (Eclectus roratus vosmaeri) is considered one of two subspecies of the "Moluccan Eclectus" (Eclectus roratus) where the Seram Eclectus (Eclectus roratus roratus) is the other subspecies (the nominate subspecies). Both of these subspecies are therefore treated as one by BirdLife International.

The largest threat currently posed to this species under one comes from hunting and trapping for the wildlife trade. This has led to a notable decline in the species population but not to a sufficient degree to classify it as threatened, so the current status is "Least concern".


Nature protection measures

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

Here you can see an adult male of Vosmaer's Eclectus  where you clearly can see the almost luminous (fluorescent) and grass-green plumage, which is also one of the special characteristics of male birds of this subspecies. Photo from the internet, photographer Mr. Rudy Caccia, Australia.

In human care

Vosmaer's Eclectus is a well-established subspecies among US aviculturists, and in addition, a smaller number breed each year with aviculturists in Australia. It used to be relatively common in Europe.


I once paired an older female bird with a quite young - very large - male, and it turned out to be a bad combination. The female birds are notoriously known for their dominant - and in several cases also - aggressive behaviour, and when it comes to an older female bird, a young male "doesn't get a foot on a perch". In such a situation, even the fact that the male was very big, it was not big enough to match the female, he simply did not have the necessary age earn her respect. In such situations, you should also be aware that it is best for the older female bird to move into the younger one's familiar surroundings, so that the female is on the " away field", so the new surroundings may put a dampener on her aggressiveness.


It is my personal opinion that this subspecies - among those found in protected conditions - is generally the type that has by far the loudest voice.


Colour mutations

I am not aware of any colour mutations of this subspecies, but in the late 1800’s a male yellow-pied bird was observed which was almost entirely yellow with quite a few green feathers. It can be seen as a stuffed bird at the Leiden Museum in the Netherlands.



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


Vosmaer's Eclectus (Eclectus roratus vosmaeri), a female bird. This is a bird raised in human care, which is placed in a tree in the wild. However, I do not think that this is a "pure" Eclectus roratus vosmaeri, but a cross-bred bird, as the breast feathers are bluish-violet, and the pattern of the plumage does not clearly point to a "pure" bird. In addition, the undertail coverts on the rump are yellow and red spotted, which clearly points in the direction of a cross-bred bird. You must always make sure that "pure" Vosmaer's Eclectus females (Eclectus roratus vosmaeri) have a completely clearly demarcated pure cadmium-yellow rump/undertail coverts and a broad, pure cadmium-yellow edge along the tail. Photo from the internet.