The sexual dimorphism of these parrots is much more apparent than with any other parrot species. The contrast between the male and female of the species is so great that in the past they were believed to be two different species. Having discussed this parrot with a native of Indonesia I believe that to this day Indonesian’s in their folklore still see the cocks and hens as two separate species, remaining in groups of their own kind until it is time to mate. And it is often seen that males and females in captive bred collection do seem to remain slightly discrete from each other apart from the breeding periods. With my own Eclectus parrots It is quite common to see the cocks all at the far end of their flights and the hens inside the birdroom during the day.
Eight to ten sub-species are recognised, whilst the cocks are almost impossible to visually identify apart from their size shades of green and amount of yellow and blue in their tail. The hens have significant visual colour variations.
However is should be realised that some local variations occur in the wild due to hybridisation and more commonly now in captive collections.
There are three groups, Lavender or Purple breasted hens, Blue or Cobalt breasted hens and Red breasted hens.
Lavender or Purple breasted hens.
Average length 35cm. Female has dark Purple breast and abdomen as well as almost completely red under tail coverts. Often they have yellowish tail edging. Male is dark green with head lightly tinged yellowish. Iris orange yellow. They are found on Cerum, Buru, Indonesian and Molluccan Islands. Some differences occur with the hen Grands in the definition of the Purple breast where some have a well defined bib line and others do not. Also some hens having more yellow in the tail than others.This is possibly due to some hybridisation in the wild between Vos or Red-sided depending on locality of the Grand groups. But generally the Grand hens lack the yellow vent feathers near to the tail which is so prominent in the Vosmaeri and Riedel Eclectus.This V area near the tail in Grands is dark red. The Grand cocks are a dark emerald green and appear quite different from the green colour of Red Sided or Vosmaeri cocks. They also have only a small areas of blue on the wing coverts when viewed from the front. The beak colour appears very redish compared to a Red Sided or SI Eclectus cock.
Average length 38cm. Male is like Grand but is like "light olive green" appearance and sometimes with odd yellowish feathers around the neck. The red plumage to the sides of the body is more extensive into the chest areas. The beak colour is similar in redness to the Grand.Tail feathering has whitish -yellow edging and broader than Grand. The hen has a lavender upper breast washed with red feathering. Tail feathering has a distinctive yellow band (1-2cm). They are found in the Mollucas, Indonesia including the islands of Halmahera, Morotal, Batjan,Obi , Damar, mare and Kayao.
Cobalt or blue breasted hens.
Red Sided (r.polychoros)
Average length 37cm. Male similar to Grand but has more of a "grass green" plumage more and has substantially more blue along the leading edges of the wing coverts when viewed from the front, Iris orange red. Outer wing coverts have a more prominent blue edging appearance than perhaps Grand or Vosmaeri Eclectus. The beak colour is less redish than the grand or Vosmaeri cocks.Hen has narrow blue periophthalmic ring around eye . Upper breast red with Cobalt blue band. Iris yellowish white. They are found in New Guinea, Salwati, Batanta, Waigeo, Trobriand islands, D’Entrecastereaux and Louisada Archipelagos.
Solomon Islands ( r.solomonesis)
Average length 33cm. Male similar to Red Sided cock but much smaller. The beak colour is more similar to Red Sided than Grand/Vosmaeri. Iris brownish yellow. Hen similar to Red Sided but much lighter red, breast lighter blue and broader blue periophthalmic ring around the eye. Tail on average shorter. They are found on Solomon Islands, Bismarck and Admiralty Archipelagos.
Red Breasted hens
Riedel and Cornelias (r.cornelia & r.riedel)
These two sub-species are seen in a few collections in Europe. The hens are distinctly different in that they do not have the broad dark bands across the chest and nape. Cornelia has dark red under tail coverts whereas the Riedel hen has yellow under tail coverts. The Riedel cock has a bluish-green head coloration and very distinctively has a broad band of yellow on the tail end. The cock Cornelia is very similar to the Vosmaeri cock. The Cornelia’s are found on Sumba, one of the lesser Sunda Islands, and the Riedel on Tanimbar Island.The average length of the Reidels is 33cm and that of the Cornelia is 37cm.
The red feathers under the wings of the Westermans Eclectus are completely concealed, hens are similar to the Grand. The sub species Biak , Aru and the Australian Macgillivray are similar to Red Sided.
Photos above (left to right): Grand, Red-sided, Solomon and Vosmaeri Eclectus
Photos above (left to right): 1st 2 Grand, Reidel, Solomons, 2 Vosmaeri, and last is Red Sided
Eclectus Breeders sites