Plight Of Henry

As I sit here listening to the beautiful chatter of the parrotlets, I am captivated by one specific individual’s singing. The louder sound, deeper tones, and broader variety of notes make me feel both pleased and sad. I’m happy because I know I’m one of the few individuals in the world who can hear the sounds of Henry, our male Yellow Face parrotlet (Forpus xanthops). Regrettably, his calls go unanswered; there is no female to respond. He is alone in an aviary full of parrotlets.

They are thought to be the rarest species of Forpus parrotlets, located only in the isolated Maranon Valley in northern Peru. Because of the inaccessibility of this location, nothing is known about their natural behaviors. Their numbers have not been recorded, although they are thought to be minimal owing to their exceedingly restricted range. There have never been any subspecies recognized. They are included on Appendix II of CITES.

They are also the biggest species of Forpus parrotlets, measuring six inches long and weighing more over fifty grams. Male Yellow Faces, like male Pacifics, have a strip of cobalt-blue feathers behind the eye, as well as cobalt-blue on the rump and wings. The legs and beaks of both males and females are horn-colored. A black line runs along the center of the beak from the cere to the tip. They have magnificent golden feathers around their faces from the top of their heads to the bottom of their necks, as the name indicates. Females resemble males, but their lower backs and rumps are light blue rather than cobalt blue. On their wings, they have green feathers with blue highlights. Although some female Pacifics have blue feathers on their rump, no other Forpus hen has blue on her wings.

Between ten and twenty pairs of Yellow Face were imported into the United States sometime in the early 1980s. Everyone felt there was an endless supply of birds and that it would never run out. While captive breeding was on the rise, it was due to the money to be earned from selling infants rather than conservation initiatives. After all, it was feasible to acquire Black Palm Cockatoos at the time, so who cared about a small little parrot no one had ever heard of? No one maintained track of the Yellow Face, as they did with tens of thousands of exotic birds in this nation, and they practically vanished.

At the moment, four birds in this nation have been identified as Yellow Face parrotlets. Regrettably, they are all men. The last known female perished in an aviary fire in Florida with her partner while on eggs. Our Henry is a Yellow Face who was reared in the United States. While his background is murky at best, he is a confirmed male who lost his hen many years ago. Although I’ve heard of Pacific guys having kids at the age of eighteen, Henry is twelve and not growing any younger. Every day he spends alone in his cage is a wasted day. The unfortunate aspect is that it does not have to be this way.

For many years, breeders in Europe, notably in Belgium, Holland, and Germany, have successfully bred Yellow Face. These breeders are also producing Sclaters’, as well as many subspecies of Green Rumps, Spectacles, and Blue Wings, all of which are not accessible in the United States. They have also developed some stunning color mutations in several Forpus parrotlet species.

These European birds are healthy, genetically sound, and have been grown entirely in captivity. However, since the enactment of the Exotic Bird Conservation Act in 1992, they have been prohibited from being legally imported into the United States. It’s paradoxical that a rule intended to safeguard natural populations is now being used to limit access to the one thing that can rescue them: captive-bred birds. This policy must be modified or most of the world’s birds will go extinct.

We can make our views known by joining organizations like the International Parrotlet Society and the American Federation of Aviculture. As responsible aviculturists, we must educate the general public as well as the government about the importance of what we are doing. Zoological parks are not prepared to cope with the increasing number of animal species and subspecies. I heard that a member of Congress said that since saving all animal species is impractical, it should be determined which ones should be spared and which should die extinct. Personally, I don’t want the government to start acting like God. I may not be able to preserve all of the creatures, but I will do all in my ability to ensure that Forpus parrotlets survive for future generations. I owe it to Henry, after all.

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