Rediscovering A Forgotten Subspecies: The Colombian Pacific Parrotlet


Forpus coelestis may be found in south-western Equador and north-western Peru. There are no subspecies, according to the most reputable avicultural literature. For many years, Yellow Faced parrotlets, Forpus xanthops, located in Peru’s Maranon Valley, were mistakenly categorized as Forpus coelestis xanthops, a Pacific subspecies. The Yellow Faced are now recognized as a distinct, though very uncommon, species.

Males may be distinguished from females by their cobalt-blue feathers on their wings, backs, rumps, and eye streaks, according to Pacific parrotlet breeders. Females have eye streaks, although they are emerald green rather than blue. This differentiation also applies to the majority of Forpus parrotlet species, with Yellow Face being the only exception.

Despite the previous, it came as a huge surprise when a small three-week newborn hen developed a fairly noticeable blue rump while hand-feeding one morning. Her wings were green, as was her eye stripe, but her rump was obviously blue. The rump color was considerably softer and diffuse, nearly dark turquoise, as opposed to the males’ intense cobalt. Her sisters all seemed “normal,” with green rumps rather than blue. When we checked the parent bird, we were astounded to see the most magnificent, vibrant, deep shade of blue on her rump as well as her eye streak. Because she is a wild-caught hen, she is seldom seen outside of the box, making color observation difficult. In addition, since she was one of the first breeders acquired, her lack of experience contributed to the uncertainty.

Four of the seven pairs of Pacifics in our aviary had blue rumps, and two of them had patches of blue on their wings! When many additional Pacific parrotlet breeders were contacted, they too reported that some of their Pacific hens had blue rumps. Many of these hens passed on this feature to their daughters, despite the fact that the color patterns did not appear until after their first molt.

Another pair of birds was collected from southern California around this time. This time, it was the man who stood out. This bird has a silver-gray back instead of an olive back. He also had a grayish-mauve feather band over his breast, and his eye streak went around his head, making the whole rear of his head blue. Even the dark blue rump and wing hue was significantly paler than the other males’ rich, nearly black cobalt blue.

These color changes in both sexes of Pacific parrotlets were discovered to be connected at the time. We started our research with wild-caught birds since they have the purest bloodlines and there is little danger of inbreeding or hybridization between possible sub-species. We also reasoned that wild-caught pairings captured at various periods and from different places would have nothing in common. At this time, it was also suggested that they may represent an unknown or at least unreported subspecies, rather than mutations or hybrids. When we contacted buyers of our birds’ progeny, we discovered that 70% of them had blue rumps on their hens. Thirty percent of those polled said that females had minimal blue on their wings as well. The more study we did, the more we believed in the idea of a subspecies and started doing all we could to verify it.

Initially, blue-rumps hens were coupled with gray-back males. The pairings were housed in twenty-four inch wide, eighteen inch high, and twenty-four inch deep wooden cages. On the wire front of the cages, lovebird nest boxes were attached. This enables the pairings to hear but not see each other. All parrotlet species, but notably Pacifics, may be violent and territorial. If another couple is too near, they will fight ceaselessly. The birds are kept inside beneath Vitalites, which turn on at 7:30 a.m. and off at 9:30 p.m. To eliminate dust and provide clean filtered air for the birds, an air filter is also used.

All of our parrotlets are given a standard big hook bill seed diet that includes hemp, gray striped sunflower, and millet seed in addition to peanuts in the shell. In addition to seeds, seven different types of fresh fruits, vegetables, and greens, as well as cooked beans and grains, were provided daily. Pellets of a commercial brand, as well as Petamine, cuttlebone, and mineral block, are constantly accessible. At all times, fresh, pure water purified using a biological filter is accessible. Vitamins and calcium supplement powder are sprinkled on the soft meals. During compared to other little parrots, parrotlets seem to benefit from a greater protein and fat diet when breeding, thus egg food is also offered.

The first F-1 generation emerged into the world in May 1991. We were ecstatic! By three weeks, their feathers were starting to appear, and half of the tiny chickens had blue rumps. The guys, on the other hand, seemed to be typical men, with olive backs and no band across the chest. We crossed our fingers and hoped for the best. We were rewarded after their first molt. The rumps of the hens became blue, while the backs of the males turned gray. By the age of one year, all of the children resembled their parents. Hallelujah!

The F-1 generation was established in July 1992, and by August, healthy young birds had been created. Some of the hens developed blue rumps as soon as they feathered out, whereas others waited until their first molt. Males followed a similar trend.

We hoped to introduce some new bloodlines by the time the F-2 generation was ready to breed in the summer of 1993. Contacting other aviculturists who were interested in breeding these birds true and exchanging progeny. The F-3 generation, like its predecessors, replicated the colour patterns.

One day, a friend sent us a very old paper about parrotlets published in 1932 by Karl Plath, the Chicago Zoo’s curator of birds. Although the majority of the material is now acknowledged to be erroneous, one little paragraph almost stopped our hearts from beating. He described a Pacific subspecies that originated in Columbia, with blue rumps on the hens. He also noted that the male had a gray back and paler blue wings and rump than the species seen in Equador and Peru. Eureeka! I have evidence! Forpus coelestis lucida, often known as “Ridgway’s Parrotlet,” was a subspecies with its own name.

Generation F-4 is presently on a clutch of eggs as of April 1995. Several essays, along with images, have been published in the International Parrotlet Society newsletter. Many individuals have recognized these birds in their aviaries and are attempting to breed them solely with other birds of the same species. Aviculture is a new science, and we must share our knowledge and experience in order to benefit both ourselves and the birds. The six-year journey has allowed us to experience the excitement of the pioneer spirit and, perhaps, get a greater grasp of the value of captive breeding in discovering and protecting species.

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