The Colombian Pacific Parrotlet Rediscovering A Forgotten Subspecies


Pacific Parrotlets Foipus coeleslis are found in south-western Ecuador and north-western Peru. According to the most respected avicultural publications there are no subspecies. Yellowfaced Parrotlets Forpus xautbops which are found in the Maranon Valley in Peru, were erroneously classified as Forpus coelestis xantbops, a subspecies of Pacifies for many years. The Yellowfaced are now rightly identified as their own albeit very rare species.

It has long been accepted among Pacific Parrotlet breeders that males can be differentiated from females by their cobalt-blue feathers on their wings, backs, rumps and eye streaks. Although females do have eye streaks, they are emerald green not blue. This distinction is also true of most species of Forpus parrotlets with Yellow-faced being the only exception.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, it came as a great surprise when one morning while handfeeding, a little three-week old hen had a very pronounced blue rump. Her wings were green and her eye streak was emerald hut her rump was definitely hlue. The rump color was not dark cobalt as in the males hut much softer and diffuse, almost dark turquoise. Her sisters all appeared "normal", that is, they possessed green rumps not blue. Upon checking the parent bird, to our utter dishelief, she had the most beautiful, bright, rich shade of turquoise on her rump as well as her eye streak. Since this is a wild-caught hen, she is rarely seen her outside of the box, thus color observation was infrequent. Also, since she was one of the first breeders obtained, inexperience added to the confusion.

Immediately taking inventory of the seven pair of Pacifies in our aviary, four had blue rumps and of those, two had patches of hlue on their wings:

Contacting several other breeders of Pacific Parrotlets, they too reported some of their Pacific hens had blue rumps. Many of these hens passed on this trait to their daughters although the color patterns often did not come in until after their first molt.

About this time, another pair of birds was obtained from southern California. This time, it was the male that looked different. Instead of having an olive-green hack, this bird was silver-gray. He also had a grayish-mauve band of feathers across the chest and his eye streak extended around his head so the whole back of his head was blue. Even the dark blue rump and wing color was much lighter than the deep, almost black, cobalt blue of other males.

Unknown at the time, these color differences in both sexes of Pacific Parrotlets were related. We began a study with our wild-caught birds as they possess the purest bloodlines and there would he little or no chance of inbreeding or hybridization. We also reasoned that wild-caught pairs, presumably collected from the same area, would give us a true indication of the species in both sexes. It was suspected that they were an undiscovered or at least unpublished subspecies, not mutations or hybrids. When we contacted purchasers of our birds' offspring, a 70% majority stated their hens had blue rumps. Of those, 30% stated the females had some blue on their wings as well. The more research performed, the more we believed these birds were in fact a subspecies and began researching everything possible to prove it.

We began by placing hens with blue rumps with males who had gray backs. The pairs were placed in wooden cages which were 24 in. wide, 18 in. high and 24 in. deep. This allows the pairs to hear each other but not see each other. All species of parrotlets, hut especially Pacifies, are extremely aggressive and territorial. They...



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