The Celestial or Pacific Parrotlets


I Introduction

will never forget the first time I saw a parrotlet. My husband and I attended a bird show in Sacramento, California. We were walking around and I saw two tiny green parrots in a show cage. They looked like miniature Amazon parrots! I did not know what they were but I was determined to have some.

It took some time, but I finally found out that these diminutive parrots were called parrotlets. It took even more time to locate a pair for sale. The breeder took the pair out of the cage, showed me the male, then the female. He put them in a paper bag and I took them home. I had no idea what to feed them, what kind of cage to keep them in, or even that there were more than one species of parrotlet.

Parrotlets are among the smallest parrots in the world with their closest relative being Amazon parrots. Most species are less than five inches in length and weigh less than 30 grams. Parrotlets are tiny, streamlined parrots with wedge-shaped tails and large beaks for their size. Primarily green, patches of yellow, gray, and blue identify the species, subspecies, and sex.

Identification of the male of a species is made upon the particular shade and


location of blue he possesses. Being more difficult to identify, females are generally identified by their size, conformation, and coloring because they lack the blue of the males.

The most widely kept parrotlet (and suhject of this article) is the Pacific or Celestial Parrotlet Forpus coelestis. Approximately five and one-half inches in length and averaging 28 grams, these bright olive green birds have pink beaks and legs. They are found in the wild on the Pacific Ocean side of the Andes, western Ecuador, and northwestern Peru. Males have deep cobalt wings, backs, rumps, and a streak behind the eye. Females are various shades of olive and emerald green with no blue and an emerald green eye streak. Both males and females have pink beaks and legs.


In the subspecies F. c. lucida the females have blue rumps, eye streaks, and, sometimes, wings although it is not as dark a blue as found in the males. Males of this subspecies have silver gray backs and wings as well an eye streak that completely encircles the back of the head. This subspecies is found in Columbia. Both males and females have bright, lime-green faces with pink beaks and legs.

Pacific Parrotlets have the most outgoing and feisty personalities. However, they are also very affectionate and bond strongly with their owners. Pacifies can be very stubborn and strong-willed and can quickly learn to get the upper hand with their owners. They need to be taught limits and commands to control their behavior so they will stay sweet, wonderful pets.


Color Mutations

In captivity, color mutations are highly desirable. Many are breathtakingly beautiful. There are many color mutations of Pacific Parrotlets. These include blue, dark blue, yellow, cinnamon, fallow, lutino, albino, white, dark green, and blue-fallow. It is important to remember that a mutation parrotlet may not be as vigorous as a normal green parrotlet.

Housing Parrotlets

Today's bird cages are made out of all kinds of material including metal, Plexiglass™, wrought iron, and plastic. Whatever material you choose, make sure it is easy to clean and free from zinc and lead. Also, do not use a cage made of brass or copper. Paint should be baked on to keep it from flaking. Powder coating is the best, however does increase the cost of the cage.

Parrotlets are very active and need a good sized cage to keep them happy and healthy. It's always best to get the largest cage you can afford. This will allow the placement of lots of perches and space for a wide variety of toys. Pet parrotlets should have a cage at least 18 x 18 inches. This is the minimum recommended size for a single bird.

Breeding pairs should have cages at least 24 x 24 inches. It is better to have a cage that is wider or deeper than it is tall. The horizontal room is more important than the vertical. Cage bars should spaced be no wider than 'h an inch apart. A grate on the bottom is required, as it will keep the parrotlet away from old food and droppings. Many cages also come with seed guards to help keep the area around the cage clean.

Natural wood perches are better than dowels. The bird will have more variety when perching, which will help exercise the feet and toes. Manzanita, eucalyptus, or various unsprayed fruit trees (except cherry and avocado) are also good. Parrotlets love to strip the bark off of branches. Be sure to scrub the perches well before placing them in the cage. Untreated pine is nice because it is soft and can be easily chewed.