Saturday, September 4, 2010

Creature Feature: Eclectus Parrots.

Quick. Which bird is male and which is female?

If you guessed the green one for the're wrong. In Eclectus Parrots (Eclectus roratus), the female is bright red and purple. (Seeing one in person today was exciting - the Greek "phoenix" comes from the word for deep red/purple.) This is the opposite case from most sexually dimorphic birds. Both sexes look stunning in their own right.

This could be a manga cover.

These parrots are native to Papua New Guinea and the surrounding islands. They are sometimes considered pests for eating fruit off of trees, but really, birds will do that. These strike me as an animal that would be more valuable alive than dead - their colors make them uncommon in the exotic pet trade. (Also, DAMN YOU Austronesia for having such awesome parrots!)

There are at least nine subspecies and several extinct types of Eclectus, all exhibiting this elaborate dimorphism. The type most commonly found in captivity in the U.S. originates from the Solomon Islands.

Eclectus parrots are the only parrots that exhibit acute sexual dimorphism. The differences between the two are so obvious that they were not considered the same species until the 20th century. I imagine that the only way they found out otherwise was, well...the hard way.

Nice gold under this girl's tail, too! Perfect phoenix palette!

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