Health issues are rare in Eclectus parrots who are fed the correct diets and are healthy. Incorrect diets can bring on many health issues and one of the most common ones is Toe Tapping or Wing Flipping.

Toe Tapping is an involuntary movement of the toes opening and closing. When perched, their nails can hit the perch or cage causing the toe to make a tapping sound. Ekkies can stretch their feet out and clench their toes when getting comfortable and this can sometimes cause owners to panic into thinking they’re toe tapping.

Wing Flipping is an involuntary movement of the wings dropping and tightening against the body. Ekkies also ‘flick’ their wings on a regular basis to re-adjust their feathers. Sometimes when they’re about to take flight they can lower their bodies, extend their wings out 1/2 way and begin to ‘flutter’ their wings. These are often mistaken for wing flipping

If Toe Tapping or Wing Flipping syndrome has been caught through the early stages there are reports that owners have been able to stop it by removing fortified foods, pellets, or adding calcium to their diet. Some Eclectus are more sensitive to what they eat than others are.

An over supplement of vitamins has been said to be another cause for the syndrome. If your Eclectus is receiving a good amount of pellets or extra vitamin supplements are added to their diets it is said to cause the syndrome.

Other noted causes of Toe Tapping and Wing Flipping are fortified foods, preservatives, colours, additives, metal toxicity, pesticides, chemicals, calcium deficiency and food allergies.

Spirulina is a popular blue-green algae plant and is said to be a nutrient rich food source. It is often recommended for parrots diets. The nutrients in Spirulina are too rich for the Eclectus parrot and has been known to cause the syndrome. Spirulina is often found in many parrot pellets.

In the past high levels of Vitamin D3 was a main cause for  toe tapping in Eclectus parrots. These were often found in pellets but to my understanding this has since been corrected.

Eclectus parrots thrive on a low nutrient diet in the wild and captive bred Eclectus parrots are no different. Adding any addition of nutrients to an Eclectus daily diet may do more harm than good. Eclectus parrots thrive on a natural diet of fresh fruit and veg and healthy human foods, so why mess with it? Any extra vitamin supplements should never be used unless advised by your avian vet and adding vitamin supplements should never be a permanent addition to an Eclectus diet.

Offer organic foods where you can. I understand it isn’t always possible. Some places don’t supply enough of a variety of organic fruit & veg, and Eclectus Parrot need a good variety and the prices can be quite high.

Organic or not, your fruit and veg needs to be thoroughly washed before offering it to your birds. All fruit and veg, including organic, has been touched by many pairs of hands by picking up the food and inspecting it long before you pick it up to buy. A thorough wash gets rid of all germs, pesticides, chemicals and waxes. This will reduce the risk of your bird being in touch with all of this.

Metal toxicity can be avoided by only using stainless steel for building or repairing gyms, cages, toys, perches etc...Avoid allowing your bird to chew anything that is metal throughout the home and on you. Most people let their birds play with their jewellery. They can get metal toxicity from this. Metal toxicity can cause toe tapping or wing flipping.

Food allergies do happen in Eclectus. Even if the food is a healthy food, offering too much of it can cause your bird to develop an allergic reaction. Always offer foods in moderation to avoid allergies. Toe tapping or wing flipping can be cause by allergies.

Calcium deficiency has been known to be a common cause in toe tapping or wing flipping. To avoid calcium deficiency offer fresh fruit and veg. Collard greens are extremely high in calcium as well as other leafy greens such as broccoli, kale, mustard, turnip greens and dandelion greens.

My Eclectus had always been given a 100% natural soft food diet consisting of a sprout breakfast, fruit and veg lunch, warmed vegetables for dinner. In between would be the healthy snacks. He also had sprouts available to him throughout the day.

On one occasion he was tried 100% natural pellets and a supermarket plain brand of mixed dried fruit to make Apricot balls. Over a couple of days he had a little of these with his usual foods. The pellets although 100% natural, were very high in vitamins and animal proteins (high potency and suitable for other parrot species). About 3 days later it was noticed that Eddie appeared to have a very mild form of toe tapping so his new foods were completely removed from his diet. We’re unsure exactly which food had caused it. Both the foods were said to be capable of doing this. Although the pellets were 100% natural, they were a high potency.

After reading the ingredients of the dried fruit mixes it was discovered that it was loaded with preservatives, additives, colours. It was surprising to see so much in one pack of ‘healthy’ dried fruit.

About 1 month after this Eddie had a slight Toe tap again. He wasn't on anything unnatural and his diet was back to his original. It was then discovered someone who's Eclectus also has an occasional and only slight toe tapping issue had noticed this happened when temperatures got very high with high humidity and the fresh food would go off very quickly.

What ever the cause may have been, Eddie’s toe tapping was only mild and caught quick enough so all possibilities had been removed to prevent it again. He no longer has high potency pellets, dried fruit unless they’re dehydrated at home and his sprouts are checked daily and fresh batches made up every few days to prevent toe tapping. He hasn't not toe tapped since.

Although Eclectus parrots require a higher vit A intake than other parrot species, this doesn’t mean you need to give them vitamin A supplements on top of their normal diets. They can obtain enough vitamin A in their diets by offering fruit and veg that are high in vitamin A, such as pumpkin and seeds, carrots, broccoli leaves, pepitas, dark green vegetables and dark orange or red fruit and veg can be high in vitamin A. The body is able to eliminate any excess vitamin A from these natural forms, but cannot eliminate vitamin A in the form of un natural supplements added to their diets. Vitamin A supplements have also been known to alter the ration of calcium.

Eddie ©

Toe Tapping and Wing Flipping