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Eclectus Parrots are big, loud, colorful parrots native to the lowland rainforests of New Guinea and northern Australia. The female (seen right) and the male are so different, they were once thought to be two separate species. Such a dramatic sexual contrast in plumage is rare in parrots. It offers a bold and beautiful example of some of the powerful selective pressures at work in evolution.
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Eclectic Plumages of Eclectus Parrots
Written by Bob Sundstrom
[https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/169808 and https://www.xeno-canto.org/409485 ]
Eclectus Parrots are big, loud, colorful parrots native to the lowland rainforests of New Guinea and nearby areas. The word Eclectus shares a Greek root with the word “eclectic”, meaning “chosen from widely different sources.”
The vivid red female has a bright blue belly and black beak. The male is an iridescent green with an orange beak. An eclectic pair, for sure. They’re so different, they were once thought to be two separate species.
Their bright colors appear to be the result of different selective pressures on each sex.
The males gather together in small flocks and bring food to the female, who spends a lot of her time guarding the mouth of a nest cavity in a large tree. Since the green males spend their lives in the open, vulnerable to predators, they gain an adaptive advantage by blending in with the trees.
The colorful female at her nest hole stands out in her bright red. But in times of danger, she can quickly duck inside her nest, where the red may be harder to see.
Such a dramatic sexual contrast in plumage is rare in parrots. And it offers a bold and beautiful example of some of the powerful selective pressures at work in evolution.
Today's show brought to you by the Bobolink Foundation. Find us at BirdNote.org.
I’m Michael Stein.
Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Recorded by Thane Pratt. Additional sounds provided by the Xeno-canto Foundation. Recorded by Ross Gallardy.
BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Managing Producer: Jason Saul
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© 2018 Tune In to Nature.org September 2018 Narrator: Michael Stein
ID# ECLPAR-01-2018-09-12 ECLPAR-01
References: Cornell Lab Handbook of Bird Biology, 3rd edition, 2016, p. 77