Orange--breasted unting


Despite significant importation, principally during the '6os and '70s, few neotropical softbills have been established in United States avicultural collections. Normal market incentives have not motivated aviculturists to work with these birds. The classic statement being "these are birds that you have to invest $500 and sell them for $250!" The only exception to this might be the various toucans and toucanets. Nevertheless, a glance at the plates in Bates and Buse nba r k's Finches and Softbilled Birds will give you some insight as to what was available to aviculturists. The plates show numerous cotingas, tanagers and trogons no longer found in captive collections.

While aviculture may have lost the Cuban Trogon, it still has a glimmer of hope with various other species including the Orange-breasted Bunting (Passerina lechlancheri). Once imported from its native Mexico, the United States captive population seems to be reduced to only a few pairs mainly in zoos. (Passerina /echlancheri) by Jack Clinton-Eitniear San Antonio, Texas

As with many species, its is the male that "sports" an attractive plumage. It has been suggested that during the '60s when it was being imported, principally males were available as the females are rather drab in coloration, thus commanded a lower price. Certainly the male with its azure-blue and yellow body highlighted with a green crown and orange breast is a very striking bird.

Inhabiting southern Mexico, principally from Jalisco south to western Chiapas, the bird is generally unknown to science with the nest and eggs yet to be discovered and described. Its range partially overlaps with an "endangered" relative's, the Rosita's or Rose-bellied Bunting (P. rositae). The Rosita's Bunting's eggs and nest have been described being a "compact assortment of black fibrillous rhizomes and leaves of bamboo grass with an inner lining of fine brown plant fibers." The eggs are "bluish white with blotches of browns and blacks." Orange-breasted Bunting having bred in captivity, despite Bates and Busenbark insinuating that it has, mention is made of Rosita's. It would appear that the late William Scheffler maintained two pairs of the Rose-bellied Bunting in his Los Angeles aviary. The birds nested in April in strawberry boxes suspended ten feet above the aviary floor. Unfortunately, due to disturbance of other foreign finches, they were unable to rear any young. William H. Timmis reported in the Avicultural Magazine breeding the Red-headed Bunting (Emberiza bruniceps) at the Chester Zoo in 1971. He maintained the birds in an aviary 49 feet long x 10 feet wide and 5 feet high with a shed at one end. The birds nested in a dense clump of honeysuckle. The nest was composed of dead leaves and grass being lined with hair and fine grasses. Incubation

· was done by the female alone and lasted 14 days. The young were fed soaked seeds and a variety of insects (maggots, mealworms, caterpillars, etc.). The fledging period lasted 14 Second Translocation of Seven Ultramarine Lories by Alan Lieberman and Cynthia Kuehler •