The Emergence of a Snowflake; the Albino Pacific Parrotlet Interview with Eric Antheunisse andKevin &Julie Stang

Dale R. Thompson


T here are seven parrotlets found in the Forpus genus. All are found in South America except for two species; the first being the Mexican Parrotlet and the second being the nominate race of the Spectacled Parrotlet. The first is obviously found in Mexico while the second barely enters Central America through Eastern Panama.

The most common and most popular parrotlet in captivity is the Pacific or Celestial Parrotlet, Forpus coelestis, which originates from the Pacific (hence its name) side of the Andes in South America. They are found in western Ecuador through northwestern Peru.

Even though the parrotlet is not the smallest parrot in the world (the Pigmy Parrots takes that role), it is the smallest parrot found in captivity. Whereas the Pigmy Parrot has difficulty even lasting 24 hours in captivity, the parrotlets have taken well to reproducing in captivity. Even though the parrotlets are around five to six inches in total length, they appear even smaller when observed in person. Sexual dimorphism is present in the adults but, for many newcomers, some of the females can be confusing as to which species they belong.

The immediate difference between the sexes of the Pacific Parrotlets is in the eye streaks. The male has a cobaltblue streak of feathers extending from the eye while the female has an emerald-green eye streak

With the large numbers of Pacific Parrotlets being successfully bred in captivity, there have been several mutations that have appeared. The following are well documented: Darkeyed (American) Yellow, Fallow, Blue, Lutino, Pastel and Cinnamon. There are several other dilutes (in addition to the Pastel and Cinnamon) appearing but they have not been named and their genetics must be more perfectly determined. All the above are recessive in their genetics.

The Albino is a combination of two other colors (Lutino and Blue) which is why it was not covered in the previous paragraph. Soon (they are probably now occurring) there will be Cinnamon-blues, etc. There appears to be two different types of Yellows; one in the States developed by Rainer Erhart, and another Yellow in Europe that retains some of its green feathers. This latter bird may in fact be another type of dilute mutation.

The Blue mutation of the Pacific Parrotlet is a beautiful powder blue in color which is why it is so well liked in aviculture. The males retain their cobalt feathers which even enhance the mutation and gives it that two-tone look that is so desired. The females are softer in their blue tones and are almost turquoise in coloration. The front of the body is baby blue and this contrasts nicely with the dark blue back.

The Lutino mutation of the Pacific Parrotlet has the red-eye and the face of the male appears to have a deeper yellow than the rest of the bird. This mutation is far less common in the U.S. than the blue.

When any mutation occurs, the bird is sometimes rather small. When this happens, one must out-cross to a normal colored bird to acquire the correct size. Long-term inbreeding can even cause infertility or problems of poor egg laying. It appears that the Blue mutation Pacific Parrotlets coming in from Europe have been outcrossed as they are not only good-sized birds but have been reproducing very well.

Since both the Blue and Lutino mutations in the Pacific Parrotlet are recessive in their genetics, an Albino offspring can be acquired very simply. There are many combinations that can be bred to acquire the Albino, even two Lutino parents. They would both have to be split to blue and this was, indeed, the parentage of the Albino Pacific Parrotlet occurring in the aviaries of Eric Antheunisse.

The parrotlets are housed in individual pairs in cages measuring 18 inches x 18 inches x 30 inches wide. A vertical wooden nest box measuring 6 inches x 8 inches x 11 inches in depth are placed on the front of each cage with a wire latter extending down from a 11/4 inch entrance hole to the shavings below. A solid partition is placed between each of the breeding pairs so they cannot see each other.

The parrotlets are fed a balanced pelleted diet daily in an open bowl along with a water dish. Automatic waterers are not used. Because parrotlets enjoy bathing in their watering dish it is changed as needed. Tube waterers are not used.



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