I am very pleased to share these superb photographs of the mating ritual of Eclectus parrots!
Even though I have a zoom lens on my camera, try as I might, the birds always spotted me or heard the camera, and the closest I got to a mating picture was one of my "interrupted" male breeders wide-eyed and open-mouthed screaming at me with the most indignant look you ever have seen on the face of a bird--and my ears are still ringing!
Then, out of the blue, this sequence of rare photos arrived from Bruce, a friend in Hong Kong. His living room windows overlook his courtyard aviary which houses his birds. He uses a Sony Mavica digital camera like I do, and he simply stood in his window, used the zoom feature of the camera, and captured the very first mating attempts of Elvis and The Lady in Red ("Doll").
They are three-year old captive parent-raised Vosmaeri Eclectus. They share the 440 square feet by 16 feet aviary off the back of a basement flat in Hong Kong with a Congo African Grey parrot and a Mynah bird. They also are in earshot of Bean, a beautiful E.r.polychloros, honking indoors while in quarantine. Although this sequence looks as though Bruce's birds have the "birds & bees" all figured out, Bruce said that he will feel lucky to get babies the first time. He said that Elvis is already starting to act protective and screams at him when he is below the nestbox cleaning the aviary. When babies do arrive, Bruce wants them to be parent reared. We will update the story as it progresses. Enjoy!
UPDATE: One week later, here are the first eggs of Elvis and his "Lady in Red". She is sitting tight, leaving the two eggs for only a few minutes a day to stretch her legs. She rushes back to resume her sitting duties and we soon will know if the eggs are fertile! Bruce reports, "I built the box and set it so that the boot toe has a flap inspection door opening precisely into my sliding window. The hen hasn't figured it out yet because I never have opened it when she was inside and the opening cannot be seen from any of the perches. I hope to get some good shots if the eggs are fertile and hatch, but the lighting is really tricky."
UPDATE: One week later, the first egg has been candled and is fertile!
UPDATE: One month after the eggs were laid: Sadly, Elvis and his Lady's eggs did not hatch, which is not unusual for the first few clutches. There is always next time...
UPDATE July 1999--Elvis and his Lady in Red had better luck with their second clutch of eggs. There were two eggs and one baby hatched. Elvis and his mate proved to be great parents, faithfully tending their first baby and feeding until it was stuffed full every time Bruce sneaked a peek and took its picture. Mother bird became accustomed to Bruce looking in on her and the baby and as you can see, he was able to get some excellent photographs of her and the baby together. Bruce had high hopes that this baby would be a girl, and luck was with him because the first red pin feather popped through right on schedule. One can almost see a rosy blush on the little redhead in her latest pictures. I believe that these are the first intimate portraits from inside an Eclectus nest. Mother and child are a beautiful sight to see! Thank you for sharing, Bruce.Click Here to see the newest pictures of Mom and the growing baby!