An excellent way to understand Ekkies is to learn about all the misunderstandings in the past. And they have a long history of being misunderstood.
Early on the first orinthologists to travel to the Soloman Island, Sumba, and New Guinea region, at first discovery thought the Dimorphic bird was two species of parrot. Of course revelations to truth came at the time they visited nests and saw the mating pairs. But there is recorded observations stating the misunderstanding.
When the exotic parrot poachers found their way to the islands with profit in mind they too misunderstood what they had found in the beautiful Eclectus. Poachers caught and brought males and females into the Australian and Asiatic markets thinking they had two types of birds, but in reality they had one. Their colors were prized as red and green in the asiatic markets represented luck, power, wealth and austerity.
Because bird health care, nutrition and avian veterinarian studies were little to not in existence during this time, nutrition was a huge misunderstanding. Captive Eclectus were fed like the softbill species kept in cages. Seeds mostly, and if they were lucky enough to be a pampered bird, they may take a bit from their owner's plate. Poor nutrition was the norm so long ago.
Additionally caging was designed for the viewing pleasure of the owners, not the safety, health and well-being of the bird inside. Round cages were the norm with domes ornate or plain. In these undersized, improperly shaped cages Eclectus spent much of their time. Misunderstanding and lack of concern for the natural husbandry and care of parrots led to hardships for the Eclectus.
With their hard travel, stolen from their native environment Eclectus arrived stressed and exhausted. They were then sold and transfered to improper caging, improper care and imporper foods. All these misunderstandings led to illness, and deaths.
Another major misunderstanding of the Eclecus and their instinctive nature was their habit to freeze when threatened or stressed. Ekkies natural environment is full of predator reptiles. And a moving Ekkie is a dinner bell to a reptile. Evolution created a thinker who froze first before fleeing. Stop, think, and then react was a better solution in their environment. In the human environment is was called Ekkie Freeze. And misunderstood as a sign of slowness or stupidity.
As wild caught Ekkies decayed in improper care, misunderstandings were solidified. Eclectus are slow, they are rather dumb, their colorful feathers disappear, they are not trainable, they are irritable. The female is a harder Electus to keep. They are not stable, and become ill easily. Of course we know now that these conclusions were based on sick, hormornal, stressed, or fearful captive birds.
And yet some misunderstandings still persist today. The Ekkie Freeze confuses some. Improper nutrition and misunderstanding the the Eclectus digestive system leads to improper feeding. With the democratization of information and informers on the internet it is VERY easy to get lost on these two matters.
Ekkies are classic example of balance requirements. Evolution in their small land area created a finely tuned physiology for food processing. The Ekkie digestive tract is longer than any other parrot. Food taken in, stays longer and is more thoroughly processed. Their digestion evolved for island eating and a finite supply and variety of foods. Their body is designed to pull MORE elements out of their foods over a longer period of time. This makes Ekkies sensitive to foods. I say sensitive, not threatened.
There is an excessive conversation online about toe tapping and wing flapping and what causes it. Involuntary foot clenching and wing flips while seated quietly MAY be a sign of problems. Some say lack of or too much of Vitamin A, some say heavy metals stored in the bird's system, some say not enough calcium or too much calcium, some say enviornmental elements not yet accounted for cause this toe tapping and wing flapping, some say stress. Who's right? Should you worry? Should you start experimenting with pellets, foods, mixes and try to create that perfect elixer?
Eclectus are still misunderstood and with the internet and this misunderstanding is not improving much. Opinions are everywhere in many directions about food, nutrition and the hyper vigilant work necessary to feed an Ekkie successfully. I call this food terrorism. I call this an unnecessary threat of doom that only causes stress for both bird and parent.
Let's get honest about some things. There is NO definitive reason laid out why an Ekkie may have nuerological indicators like wing flipping and toe tapping (foot clenching). But if you read enough online you may get yourself very worried about the threat or what you THINK you see at home.
I am about balance. Balance includes science. You can have an ABSOLUTE answer to your Ekkie's needs and status simply by having an annual Doctor visit with a full blood screen panel done. Know absolutely rather than pouring over hundreds of posts about Ekkies or blogs and websites and trying to piece together YOUR truth. An Eclectus digestive system IS special and it does NOT do well when you experiment with foods, trying to chase a ghost in the nutrition machine you read about online.
Some say pellets with food coloring is harmful. Maybe. No one has said for certain yet. But BALANCE is your friend. I feed my birds 20% pellets. Not more as prescribed on the bags of pellets. If your pellet ratio in feeding is lower like mine, then you may never see a problem with pellets that use food grade coloring.
But you won't know for sure without a Avian Veterinarian visit and full blood panel work.
Caring for an Eclectus is not more difficult than other parrots. Loving and adding an Eclectus to your home will not be an intimidating mystical event. They are a special parrot, with a special way of utilizing their foods. Know this, embrace this and join with your Avian Vet to properly care for your bird. KNOW, do not guess. KNOW. Have a yearly checkup and blood panel visit and establish a clear known history about your Ekkie. In fact, this should be done for all parrots. ALL our companion parrots are wonderfully talented at camoflaging illness until it is too late.
Online searches yield information in all directions. Your best direction is an Avian Vet and full blood screen. Know the baseline, know exactly what needs to be done, if anything. You may be surprised to learn you are doing everything right, right now! And that new special food product, or that razmataz organic item isn't necessary at all. Of course you can bring it in out of joy and wanting to pamper your bird. But you won't be acting in fear and concern. You will KNOW WHY you are offering the foods you do, and you can rest easy. Changing foods just because you feel a threat because you read something online can be more troublesome than not. KNOW absolutely. Then rest easy.
Spend the money on knowledge and healthcare first rather than the latest food nutrition craze. This investment will pay off with a healthier companion, better choices, saved money in the long run (you aren't buying this that and the other thing randomly), and YOU can relax. An Avian Vet is a companion parrot's strongest armor, and your most important acquisition.
Finally, the last but longest running misunderstanding; Males make better companions. There is no truth to rumors of one being better than the other. The truth of appropriateness lies in YOU knowing yourself and your lifestyle. Ekkies male or female are wonderful companions, and each individual IS an individual. Acquiring an Eclectus (or any parrot) must be based on who you are now, and that very individual you are holding or have met. Visit that bird at different times over a week. Understand
hormones are directly related to nutrition, materials, light cycles and interaction and both Male and Female are succesptible. There is no better or less than between the sexes of Ekkies, a parrot is a reflection of it's environment, nutrition, care and flock health.
The final truth is simple. Honestly know yourself, honestly know your bird, know his/her health scientifically. Every thing else falls into place.