Hoffman's Conure Pyrrhura hoffmanni an Avicultural Success Story


D Introduction

uring the summer of 1997 I didn't know what birdbabies Dale Thompson would show up with next for me to handfeed. It was always a hig surprise to have him drive up, fling the truck door open and let me have the first look into all the little cardboard boxes he put the babies in for their trip to my house. Gingerly carrying the boxes upstairs, I would carefully peek in each one of them. I was always eager to see what wee squirming wonders nestled in wood shavings he was bringing me.

'For a baby-bird lover such as I am, it was like Christmas every time he arrived with babies in tow.

That year saw a lot of baby hircl species cross my doorstep from Dale, hut he consistently brought Hoffrnann's Conures eve1y trip. Some were feathered, some were week-old tiny little humble-bee sized, and the middle sized ones looked like Eskimos with fluffy down snow-suits on. I le would take them from the nest and head directly for my house. Some ate pretty well after the three-hour trip, hut most took about 24 hours to develop an enthusiastic feeding response. From then on they were truly the "eager eaters" among the hahy population here.

They grew like little weeds and weaned very quickly at 50 to 60 clays. Even though Dale warned me not to socialize them, it was too much of a temptation to cuddle and scratch their heads. All the time I thought, hoy would they ever make terrific pets. Cute as a button and inquisitive, they followed me around the house flying after me to use my head or shoulder as a landing destination. They are much


quieter than some of the other conures

TI1ey also made ve1y exotic, expensive bed-warmers for a hen oosmaeri Eclectus I was handfeeding at the time too. Because I hate seeing a hahy all alone in her Tupperware-bassinet, l put in a couple Hoffmann's that were almost the size of the Eclectus for safety reasons. They matured a lot faster than the Eclectus so in a couple of weeks I selected two more that were smaller and switched. The hen Eclectus went through three sets of Hoffmann's bed-mates before she was feathered. Babies that age don't realize they arc from different continents and species. They just know it is darn good to have a huddy to cuddle up to. The last oddmix trio lived harmoniously, eating, playing, and snuggling together for over a month until the Eclectus was adopted.

As months f1ew hy l would periodically trade Dale fully weaned Hoflmann's Conures for still another clutch of tiny ones. By fall he informed me l had weaned 26 l Ioffrnann's that season - delightful, animated little green creatures that I had lots of fem with.

In a recent interview with Dale Thompson. he gave me the background of his experience with the Hoffmanns Conure, since they have been in this country.

The Hoffmann's Conure is one of the Pvrrbura conures found in Central America. It originates in the ve1y northwestern part of Panama and the Southern part of Costa Rica It has never been found legally in captivity, mainly because Costa Rica has not allowed export of its natural wildlife si1;ce 1980.


After the export ban in 1980. the only way any birds could he exported out of Panama was if export permits were acquired within Panama prior to the ban. A permit was needed from R.E.N.A.R.I., which is an equivalent lo our US Fish and Wildlife Service. This was especially important for any military personnel serving in Panama. They had to have this permit prior to leaving if they were taking out any animals. Many people at the military base had conures, macaws, and especially the Panama Amazon in their homes. If they obtained this permit they could


later export their pet bird legally after 1980. All commercial shipments, however, were eliminated by the ban of 1980.

In 1980, Dr. Nathan B. Gale, was Chief Veterinarian in the Panama Canal Zone. This was a private sector enterprise that worked with the army.

In March of l980, 36 Hoffmann's Conures were exported out of Panama, from Nathan B. Gale to ~1 large USDA approved quarantine station owned by Gerald Schulman. This was the only group that has ever entered the U.S., let alone, the rest of the world. Upon release, these birds were distributed among three aviculturists. One had a single pair and the others were divided between two aviculturists in Arizona. Lt was during this time (1982) that Chris Rowley, an aviculturist living in Arizona, achieved a first breeding of this species.

After about a decade, the interest in the l Ioffrnanns among the aviculrurists had died down. By 1992, the original population or 36 had been reduced 10 a total of 11 specimens. All 11 birds were shipped to Dale Thompson in California.

The birds were .ill shipped in one container and there weren't any records. Nol much was known about them except for hands, which showed which were wild caught, (rhe founder stock) and which were the captivebred youngsters There was a known reproducing pair within this group. Laproscopic examination revealed seven males and four females.

After they had been laproscoped all of the birds were all placed together within a big flight. We had hopes that we could observe the breeding pair quickly hy their behavior. As it was, it took only three clays lo observe which was the "good·· pair as they showed ;1 very close bond by always perching next to each other. This breeding pair was then removed from the main group and we watched for further bonding among -the remaining nine birds. An additional pair.was observed showing dose bonding and a second pair showed a loose-formed bond. From this limited beginning, we decide to form a Hoffmann's Conurc Breeding Consortium consisting of five original members.

During the first year we were just trying to get reproduction from any of the pairs because our total numbers had been drastically reduced. With 11 total birds we knew the value of acquiring as much genetic diversity within the offspring. That first year, however, we just needed numbers; so we reproduced as many offspring from the formed pairs as we could get. As irony would have it, one of the pairs took off and bred most of the youngsters. This was the ve1y first pair that had heen removed from the group.